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Survey: Public buildings, parks top priority list for Michigan officials spending COVID relief funds

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan survey shows more than half of local governments in Michigan plan to spend federal COVID-relief funds on public buildings and parks.

Michigan towns, counties and cities are receiving billions of dollars from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

U of M’s Michigan Public Policy Survey asked county, city, village and township officials from more than 1,300 jurisdictions statewide how they plan to use the ARPA funds.

The study finds 52% of local governments say they plan to spend the money on facilities. Other priorities vary depending on the size of communities. For example, in communities of less than 5,000 people, roads tend to be the second-highest priority. In mid-sized communities (5,000 to 30,000) water and sewer projects are near the top of the list. In Michigan’s largest communities (more than 30,000), public safety spending ranks high.

Some communities plan to spend the money on cemetery maintenance, beach access, expanding election services, installing tornado sirens; and "technology preparations for remote work if needed in the future”

The survey also found that local leaders expect the COVID-relief funding will improve their community’s quality of life and fiscal health.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.