“Why don’t you give us back our money?” a reader asks local governments with ARPA funds

That would be the preference of J. Anthony Williams, chairman of the Montgomery County Libertarian Party, who said too much federal money is going to fund governments that don’t need the money, not help. the taxpayers whose money it is.

“We have rising gas prices, rising electricity prices, rising food prices and we are going to give the government millions of dollars to build a new bridge or fix a pothole that he was already on the verge of fixing,” he said.

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Some local governments across the country offer direct cash assistance to help families with childcare costs or help low-income households with utilities, but the simple act of cutting checks equals everyone in a city or county likely doesn’t comply with ARPA program rules, according to Alison Goebel, executive director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center.

“ARPA’s intent is to support families, individuals and communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and that has been low to moderate income people and often people of color,” said she declared.

US Treasury rules released in January state that direct cash transfers to households are only permitted if they are “proportionate” to the negative impact of the pandemic.

“Cash transfers, like all eligible uses under the public health and negative economic impacts category, must respond to the negative economic impacts of the pandemic on a household or class of households,” according to a Treasury fact sheet. “Recipients may assume that low- and moderate-income households (as defined in the Final Rule), as well as households that have experienced unemployment, food insecurity, or housing insecurity, have suffered an adverse economic impact due to the pandemic.”

Local governments can claim up to $10 million from ARPA as replacement for revenue lost during the pandemic. This gives them a lot more freedom to spend money.

Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Municipal League of Ohio, said he was not aware of any municipality in Ohio providing direct cash assistance of any kind directly to households with funds. ARPA.

Williams, of the Libertarian Party, said he would rather local governments pay residents’ water bills, electricity bills or a month’s rent than fund government programs.

“It would be more beneficial than whatever they end up doing with it,” he said.

Local governments have provided cash assistance to small businesses and rent and utility assistance to households – usually paid directly to the utility or landlord – with CARES Act funds, but this is much less common with housing. ARPA money, so far. Many local governments are still debating how to spend much of the money they receive, totaling $718.7 million from 230 local governments.

The closest thing locally was the City of Springboro in May 2021 which spent $759,860 to pay water, sewer and waste bills for 6,400 residences and water and sewer bills for 600 city ​​businesses. The biggest bill that was paid was for another government: Springboro Schools.

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