Cleveland Outlines Plan For Spending $511 Million In Federal Stimulus Funds

Buildings in Downtown Cleveland tower over the convention center
Cleveland officials expect to receive $511.7 million over in federal coronavirus aid over two years from the American Rescue Plan. [Tim Harrison / ideastream]
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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson on Thursday outlined his administration’s “general approach” for spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal coronavirus aid.

Ideas include stabilizing the city budget, helping businesses, supporting neighborhood development efforts and expanding internet access. Jackson did not attach dollar figures to those ideas at Thursday’s news conference, saying the city was looking for private investment to help with pandemic recovery, too.

“It’s not a continued revenue stream,” Jackson said, “so with that in mind, what we are attempting to do is to develop a strategy as to how to use this money to better ensure Cleveland’s success and position us for the future.”

The city receives the first half of its $511.7 million American Rescue Plan allocation this year. It will be up to Cleveland’s next mayor to spend the second half of the funds, which are slated to arrive in 2022.

A “large sum of money” from that aid – probably tens of millions – could go toward shoring up Cleveland’s budget, Jackson said. The city could need to cover not just pandemic costs and lost revenue, but also a potential hit to income taxes from commuters working from home.

The money also could help the city expand development strategies to so-called “middle neighborhoods” that exist between the hardest-hit communities and hot real estate markets, Jackson said.

City officials on Thursday outlined the planned approach to neighborhood development, which includes financing assistance, demolition, rehabilitation and new housing construction.

Jackson said his administration would share a more detailed proposal when seeking city council’s approval to spend the money.

“We’re not at that detail,” he said. “We have some notions, but it is not fully vetted out, because there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

A collection of advocacy groups has urged the city to allow public input on stimulus spending through “participatory budgeting,” but officials did not address that idea Thursday.

Cleveland will receive more in federal aid than other Ohio cities. Columbus and Cincinnati will see $279.5 million and $187 million, respectively.

In all, the $1.9 trillion federal spending package includes $350 million for state, local, territorial and tribal governments.

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