Funding from the American Rescue Plan—which was signed into law March 11—can be used on efforts to decrease the spread of and control the pandemic; to replace lost public sector revenue, support public services and retain jobs; to support immediate economic stability for households and businesses; and to address systemic public health and economic challenges, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Assistant City Manager Glen Martel detailed the city’s preliminary plans for spending the federal funding, which was determined by a Community Development Block Grant formula, during the June 7 City Council meeting.
Martel outlined spending the majority of the money—$6 million—on water and sewer expansions in the Mustang Bayou Service Area, which he said is necessary to support current and future growth in the southern portion of the city.
Additionally, $1 million was proposed for a disparity study and technical assistance for businesses. A disparity study determines whether there is a gap between the number of city-awarded contracts going to minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises and the availability of these businesses.
“We would use that disparity study to identify areas to improve our process and ... promoting local businesses’ opportunities to contract with the city,” Martel said.
Council Member Vashaundra Edwards raised concerns about spending funding to hire a consultant for a disparity study. However, Martel said these studies are very specific and can not be done internally.
“I’m just concerned about us utilizing funding for a consultant and not really addressing the areas that are experiencing the disparity,” Edwards said. “I just want to make sure that we hone in one these areas once we are able to identify them and give them the attention they need.”
The remaining $500,000 is proposed for improvements to city facilities, potentially related to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
“This is all preliminary. This is just where staff is at today,” Martel said. “We are not under a time crunch right now; we don’t even have the money in the bank yet, but we certainly want to continue to be proactive ... so that we can start executing those funds as soon as they get here.”
Missouri City officials hope to receive half of the funding—or approximately $3.75 million—in the coming weeks and the remaining $3.75 million a year from now, Martel said. The city has until 2024 to commit to using all of the funds, and they must be expended by 2026.
City Council asked about potential other uses for the funding including generators at city buildings and offsetting the negative impacts of the pandemic on revenue at the Quail Valley City Centre.
Staff will bring back a more finalized plan for using the American Rescue Plan funds for City Council approval.