Niles receives funding through American Rescue Plan Act

NILES – The American Rescue Plan Act, recently signed into law by President Joe Biden, represents a historic moment for the City of Niles.

“This direct financial support, of approximately $7 million, from the U.S. Department of Treasury, is an opportunity to invest in the future and is an acknowledgment of local government’s outsized role in the day-to-day service that supports a high quality of life,” said Niles City Administrator Ric Huff in a release.

According to Huff, Michigan municipalities have endured 20 years of divestment and erosion of local control and decision-making ability by the state. Since 2000, Michigan communities have lost more than $9 billion to policy decision at the state level.

“The city of Niles has done more with less for two decades, and the American Rescue Plan Act is a lifeline that will help ensure our community can host, support and accelerate a robust recovery for all of its residents,” Huff said.

Crisis after crisis, [city officials] have stepped up to find creative and innovative ways to serve residents, Huff said.

“We have weather population decline, historic flooding, tornadoes, infrastructure failures, economic devastation, declining public health and now a global pandemic is trying to take us to our knees,” he said. “We have risen to every occasion and served our residents ever time, while keeping the wheels turning on the basics of local government.”

While this pandemic is global, its effects are felt locally.
“Our restaurants and small businesses have suffered tremendously, our children have struggled and adapted to remote learning, our trail and parks have hosted neighbors near and far seeking a break from isolation, and your public employees have adapted to maintain services,” Huff said.

In a statement from the city, Huff said the city will work with its residents and businesses to ensure these funds are invested strategically so that the whole community will benefit long into the future.
It will be several weeks before the U.S. Treasury releases official guidance on Niles’ specific allocation and rules for implementation. There are allocation lists available, but the city has been cautioned that they contain inaccuracies.

“Beyond that, we have until 2024 to spend these dollars,” Huff said. “We will be able to take our time to revisit the city’s Master Plan and engage the community to identify priorities so that funds are used carefully and strategically.”

While the city must wait on the U.S. Treasury to issue rules and guidance for the interpretation and implementation of eligible uses, Huff said officials know the statutory language specifically authorizes the following uses for the funds:

  • To respond to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.
  • For premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work, as determined by each recipient government, during the pandemic, providing up to $13 per hour above regular wages.
    •For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic, relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency.
  • To make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

The statute also specifically prohibits the funds to be used for the purpose of offsetting, either directly or indirectly, a tax cut made since March 3; and prohibits state and local communities from depositing these dollars into a pension fund.

When the city of Niles receives confirmation of the ARP funds allocated to the city and clear guidance on their permitted uses, it will engage citizens of Niles to develop a comprehensive plan that will benefit the community for decades to come. Additional information can be found on the National League of Cities website at nlc.org/resource/stabilizing-local-government-operations.

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