COVID-19

$38M is coming to Kzoo, how should they spend it?

The City of Kalamazoo is set to receive $38M in COVID relief funds over the next two years. Leaders are discussing the best way to invest it.

A financial windfall is headed toward the City of Kalamazoo. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress earlier this year, most municipalities can expect to see millions in relief funding. Kalamazoo is expected to get $38 million.

The only question is how to spend it.

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Kalamazoo city commissioners met Monday night to discuss the options in what is likely to be an ongoing conversation about spending priorities.

Many in the community would like to see the money spent on helping the most vulnerable people in Kalamazoo. Former city commissioner Don Cooney told the board in an email that a chunk of the money should go directly to neighborhood associations in the city’s most impoverished areas.

“I recommend that we use this money to help those in struggle in our community gain access to what they need for a fully human life,” he wrote.

There are some limitations placed on the funding by the federal government. Cities aren’t allowed to put the money in a rainy day fund to be spent at a later date. Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain said the funds are meant to go toward infrastructure projects, public health measures, or support for those suffering during the pandemic.

City leaders want to get the public involved in the decision making. That could involve a series of public hearings like the city has done for other planning projects.

You can read more on MLive.