CADILLAC — Wexford County is receiving some huge cash due to the just lately handed federal stimulus bundle.
The greater than $6.5 million the county may obtain, as a part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bundle, is roughly 45% of the present $14.3 million Common Fund finances. Whereas the chances of how the county may spend that infusion of one-time cash are quite a few, Wexford County Administrator Janet Koch stated she is not getting too excited simply but.
Whereas that greater than $6.5 million was the congressional estimate given, the ultimate numbers will likely be decided by the U.S. Division of Treasury. The opposite subject is not any municipality is aware of precisely what the stimulus cash might be spent on as soon as they do have a closing quantity.
“It is some huge cash. We simply do not know the way we are able to spend it and we do not know but what the eligible bills are,” she stated. “We’re all (municipalities) ready for the U.S. Treasury to provide you with their pointers.”
As a part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan authorized final month, Bridge Journal reported the Michigan state authorities is predicted to get $5.9 billion, in response to an estimate from the U.S. Home Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Greater than $4.4 billion extra goes to each township, metropolis and county, in quantities starting from $100 per resident to as excessive as $1,300, in response to the Bridge Journal article.
The cash is basically primarily based on inhabitants, however some counties and communities with larger charges of poverty received extra money.
Whereas group leaders can not use the cash to pay pension money owed or present tax cuts, there are few limits on the cash, in response to the Bridge Journal article. Governments will pay for infrastructure upgrades, hazard pay for staff, parks, downtown enhancements and the like.
Koch stated it’s too dangerous that paying down pension obligation will not be allowed as that will be the most effective factor to do to help Wexford County’s monetary well being. Issues received political in 2020 and Koch stated the sentiment that stimulus cash could not be utilized in that method began.
“I believe the state of Illinois was saying, ‘Cool, we received this cash and we are able to pay down our pension liabilities,’ and the Fed stated, ‘Oh, you may’t do this. We’re not going to permit federal cash to pay for the previous errors of native states and native items,'” she stated.
The pension obligations by the county have elevated for numerous causes. The county’s obligations have elevated because of the 2011 elimination of the outlined profit pension to new staff (ie they don’t seem to be placing into the system), an ageing workforce, longer life expectations, the 2008 recession, and different actuarial calculations.
With paying down pension liabilities, not an possibility, Koch stated capital enchancment initiatives and different one-time enhancements would make sense, however it’s onerous to say what precisely will likely be executed. Particularly since they do not know a lot about what the cash might be spent on.
That, nonetheless, doesn’t suggest the county is not compiling a listing of concepts, in response to Koch.
She stated since information of the stimulus fee was made official, Koch stated she has been listening to recommendations from many individuals. She is writing them down and finally will current them to the total Wexford County Board of Commissioners for dialogue.
With regards to what these recommendations are, Koch stated the Wexford County Civic Enviornment wants a number of upgrades and has been a suggestion. Different issues included upgrades to county expertise, particularly within the court docket system. Fixing the parking zone on the Lake Avenue constructing and different common enhancements to the constructing are also choices.
She additionally stated it is not identified if different debt like for the newer addition to the courthouse or the brand new jail could possibly be paid down with the stimulus cash. She additionally stated improving the dam could possibly be an possibility, however once more nothing is definite.
What is understood is the cash does not must be spent till the top of 2024. For Koch, with all of the uncertainty at the moment surrounding the stimulus fee, that point might be the most effective factor in regards to the fee.
“That is an unprecedented, one-time funding in native authorities, so it makes a whole lot of sense to assume lengthy and onerous about what’s the absolute best use of this taxpayer cash,” she stated. “We’re by no means going to get one other chunk of cash like this once more. What’s the absolute best use for the taxpayers and the county? There are all kinds of potentialities, however we simply do not know sufficient about what’s an eligible expense and what’s not.”
The Bridge article reported Michigan municipalities misplaced $8.6 billion in state-revenue sharing from 2001 to 2018. The variety of municipal staff fell 20% — over 87,000 jobs — to 356,012 between September 2001 and September 2018, in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However whereas many native authorities leaders had been thanking their fortune for the stimulus largesse, it’s seemingly not free. Stories have indicated President Joe Biden will push for tax will increase to pay for the plan, seemingly looking for to reverse cuts on firms and excessive earners enacted in the course of the Trump administration, in response to Bridge Journal’s reporting.