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Detroit City Council approves plan to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds

Courtesy: Andy McFarlane

Mayor Mike Duggan’s plan to spend federal money for pandemic relief is moving forward. Detroit City Council approved the budget framework today.

Detroit is expected to receive $826 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Duggan wants most of that funding for blight remediation and to offset revenue shortfalls.

Many residents objected to the plan during City Council’s public comment. Toyia Watts is president of the Charlevoix Village Association.

“What is the rush?," Watts asked. "What is the rush on this money? And people don’t even know what’s going on. People can’t even speak.”

Duggan’s framework will be used by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer for budgeting. City Council will still need to approve individual appropriations.

Council Members Mary Sheffield and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez were the only ‘No’ votes. They say residents have not been given enough time to provide feedback. The city held a series of online meetings to discuss the mayor’s framework over the past month.

Jeffrey Nolish is Policy Director of Detroit Disability Power. He opposes Duggan’s proposals and says persons with disabilities were left out of the discussion.

“We’re not convinced that the money allocated towards transportation or health care will reach its highest and best use for people with disabilities because we haven’t seen it so far, so we need to invest,” Nolish said.

Duggan wants some of the money from the American Rescue Plan to go towards policing, employment programs and small business recovery programs.

City Council President Brenda Jones voted for the program. She dismissed the criticism.

“There has been a working group before council with all council members staff present for the last past 6 weeks," Jones said. "There have been many councilmembers who have held meetings to tell their constituents in their districts what is before Council.”

Activists with the Detroit Will Breathe collective have also introduced separate budget priorities for the federal funding.

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