City staff in Plano plan to funnel $18.2 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds toward departments that experienced revenue loss as a result of the pandemic, according to a presentation made at the June 28 City Council meeting.

The allocation comes as part of the American Rescue Plan, which provides money to eligible state, local, territorial and tribal governments to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and to bring back jobs, according to the U.S. Department of The Treasury. The city cannot use the money to replenish reserves or rainy day funds, City Manager Mark Israelson said.

City staff recommends putting $15.7 million toward the general fund, $1 million toward the convention and tourism fund and $1.5 million toward the recreation revolving fund, which is supported by fees generated through various recreation classes, according to city budget documents.

Part of the money earmarked for the general fund will help pay for a traffic signalization project that will provide upgrades to existing technology and add a vehicle detection system, Israelson said. That project is in the planning phase.

“We think it is prudent to set that aside knowing the concerns of citizens about traffic in Plano,” he said, noting that the remaining $7.7 million could be allocated during the upcoming budget cycle.

Council Member Anthony Ricciardelli asked whether staff should consider allocating all $18.2 million toward the general fund. Israelson said the transfers into the recreation revolving fund and convention and tourism fund are necessary to bring those funds out of a deficit.

“We normally strive to be close to 30 days of operating capital for most of our funds,” Israelson said, noting that the recreation revolving fund and convention and tourism fund are at minus 119 days and minus 10 days' worth of operating capital, respectively.

Israelson said the hotel occupancy tax fund is beginning to improve along with other sources of income for the city.

“The other funds have seen a pretty precipitous rebound, so we are feeling better about next year,” he said. “But we are still in recovery mode this year.”

The $18.2 million available now represents half of the $36.4 million Plano claimed as damages caused by the pandemic. The city expects to receive the remaining funds next year. Use of that money will be subject to council approval.