When Councilor-at-Large Gerry Visconti requested that Mayor Brian Arrigo appear before the Ways and Means Sub-committee at its April 26 meeting to discuss the $30 million in funds that the city will receive via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, there seemed to be some negative connotations.
In fact, Councilor-at-Large Steven Morabito stated during the ensuing discussion that he was sure that Visconti had ‘no ill intentions” with his motion.
And Morabito was right. Visconti, understanding like everyone else that $30 million is a lot of money to be added to the city’s coffers, just wanted to know the mayor’s plans for the spending of the funds. Other councilors inferred that the process should be “transparent” and all actions should be conducted in consultation with the Council.
They didn’t have to wait long for Mayor Arrigo to respond to Visconti’s request. Forget April 26.
Arrigo responded within minutes via Zoom at the meeting and the mayor was so transparent, so informative, and so forthcoming with the process, that there was stone silence from the Council – and no further questions were necessary.
“I certainly appreciate everyone’s confidence in our ability to make sure that this process of receiving and then getting this money out to the public is done is done in a transparent way and a collaborative fashion,” said Arrigo cordially.
The mayor explained that the City of Revere will be receiving $30 million from the federal government.
“There are four areas where we can send money – No. 1 is responding to the public health emergency that we’re still faced with and the economic impact including assistance to households, small businesses, and aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality,” said Arrigo.
The mayor said a second area is related to premium pay (up to $13 per hour) to eligible employees who perform essential work, a formula to be determined by Arrigo himself.
The third area is replacing city revenues. “Any revenue reductions that we had due to the pandemic – this is a really important bucket because by replacing revenues, we can then free up dollars to other things,” said Arrigo.
The mayor said the fourth area of fund distribution is centered “around investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.”
Arrigo said the basic framework for the funds will focus on “three really core values” – leveraging the money that the city is receiving from the federal government with other potential funding sources such as state and federal grants; providing for all of Revere’s residents that ensures a level of quality of life; and making sure that the city is investing for recovery and that the city is measuring how it is doing “in terms of the results and the recovery for our residents.”
“We’re going to make sure there is a significant investment in urgent health and economic needs,” said Arrigo. “It’s certainly going to be a priority to make sure we’re making short-term investments with long-term benefits. That’s where we want to be when we’re spending these dollars and we want to get them out quickly.”
Arrigo also informed the Council that the city has until 2024 to spend the funds and the $30 million will be allocated to the city in three-to-four installments.
“We’re eagerly anticipating that money,” concluded Arrigo, promising an ongoing conversation with the Council.
The mayor had made his point very well. It will be a transparent effort and a team effort and the Council will be included in the discussions.