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Lansing has $49M in federal relief funding. Now, City Council is debating how to spend the windfall


The Lansing City Council is debating how best to spend a massive infusion of cash after Mayor Andy Schor presented his plan for appropriating over $49 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Local governments can use the federal funding for a broad range of uses related to pandemic recovery and Schor says he consulted with local stakeholders including the United Way, the Potter Park Zoo and the Lansing branch of the NAACP before presenting his ARPA spending plan, which spans the next two year fiscal years.

"Putting sizable dollars for equity is really important," Schor said.

About $20 million would offset pandemic-related losses to the city’s general and parking funds.

There's also millions dedicated to operational expenses, like equipment for the fire department, as well as money proposed for expanding existing grants that aim to boost the arts, neighborhood groups and small and minority-owned businesses.

More than $3 million would go to park improvements, including new pickleball courts at Clifford Park and upgrades to Hunter Park Pool.

And $2 million over two years has been left unallocated for the City Council to earmark at its discretion.

"We wanted to hear from you all, you know, what are the things that are important to you?” Schor told the council Monday, suggesting council members could prioritize pet projects like adding lights to parks or hiring staff to investigate cold case murders.

Lansing got is first ARPA installment of nearly $25 million last year. The second half is expected to hit city coffers this August.

Sarah Lehr is a state government reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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