Mayor Warren presents plan to spend federal stimulus funds.
Mayor Lovely Warren wants to use part of the city’s $ 200 million in federal clawback dollars to provide a monthly allowance for 200 families for two years.
The Universal Basic Income pilot program is one of many things the administration has promised or planned that would be funded by US bailout funds.
The federal spending plan – totaling $ 350 billion nationally; $ 24 billion for New York State governments – aims to help cities and major towns repair economic damage from the pandemic.
The money can be used to close budget gaps, support public health efforts, finance infrastructure, and increase the wages of essential workers.
Warren presented the plan to city council in a virtual working session on Wednesday.
To concern: Click here to see the full presentation to City Council.
Main areas of spending and what they include
►Economic growth, $ 21 million
- The limited UBI program, still in development, would provide a fixed monthly payment to families eligible for income. Overdue tax and utility bills would also be forgiven for qualifying homeowners.
- Grant and loan programs would be extended to food related businesses in low to moderate income areas that do not have access to fresh food and grocery options, for repairs to commercial / residential properties for mixed use in targeted trade corridors and to start-ups.
►Workforce development, $ 19 million
- Creates a City Sustainability Institute, offering paid job training, financial literacy, academic support and a “launch pad” for co-ops and small businesses.
- Other employment programs would focus on training and maintaining jobs in manufacturing and health care, and expand employment services for youth.
►Public health and safety, $ 53 million
- The city’s new Neighborhood Safety Office and its Peacemaker Fellowship mentorship program would get part of the funding. The same will apply to the Bureau of Economic Intelligence of the Police Department to better manage, analyze and share data and support reforms. The fire department facilities will be modernized.
- Pantries would be created in recreation centers in the city and a meal program for the elderly would be continued.
- The money would also go to ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and testing initiatives, lead pipe replacement, and federally-requested upgrades to Highland Park Reservoir.
►Housing, $ 33 million
- The city would expand its popular roofing assistance grant program, expecting to recruit 14 contractors to complete 540 additional roofing projects over three years. Home rehabilitation assistance, specifically for the elderly, would help approximately 215 eligible homeowners.
- Seed funds are being set aside for a new Housing ATrust to preserve and build affordable housing. The existing land bank program would also be expanded, helping with mortgage assistance and home improvement while subsidizing 80 properties for sale to homebuyers with qualifying income.
- Additionally, the city would build homes on 100 vacant lots in former red light districts, made affordable to income-eligible homebuyers.
►New library branches and more, $ 32 million
- The plan calls for a new multipurpose library at the Maplewood branch to include space for continuing education and play, as well as access to city and county services. Many branch customers are new Americans. The city would also fund a new library branch in northeast Rochester, the only quadrant in the city with a single library.
- The downtown skatepark would be completed, as would the redesign of Charles Carroll Plaza along the Genesee River in downtown. A civil rights heritage site would be established at Baden Park. And a nature center would be built in Maplewood Park, a city first supporting nature-based educational and environmental programming.
- Improvements to Durand Eastman Beach are being considered, as well as improvements to other parks in the city. Funding is included for the ongoing Bulls Head revitalization project, focused on the area around West Main, Brown and Genesee streets and West Avenue.
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In addition, the city would set aside $ 11 million to expand year-round vending machines and multi-purpose event spaces to the public market and the international plaza. Almost $ 6 million would be used to improve the city’s information technology, cybersecurity and town hall systems, making them more inclusive, efficient and automated.
There is $ 18 million for capital projects, including the Broad Street water project as well as the expansion of the Blue Cross Arena and Riverside Convention Center. And the remaining $ 8 million would fill the city’s budget deficits, ensure compliance with federal reporting and project management, or be set aside for future projects.
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The city council is asked to approve the plan at the October meeting, which is not legally binding. Separate votes have been or will be used for the appropriate dollars.
The plan has been described as preliminary and flexible, recognizing that the new year will change who sits on city council and the mayor’s office. The city has already received $ 101 million from federal dollars.
The money must be “committed” by the end of 2024, and spent by the end of 2026.