Florida League of Cities gives direction for spending millions in ARA money

by | Aug 6, 2021


The Florida League of Cities is riding point, helping 77 Florida metropolitan cities navigate the rules for distributing $1.5 billion received in May from the federal American Recovery Act (ARA).

The allotments to cities ranged from a relatively paltry $1.6 million to the City of Destin to $157,663,110.00 for the City of Jacksonville. A complete listing of each cities’ funding is here.

The Florida League of Cities said their offices are receiving a variety of different questions. A majority of them are questions about eligible projects/initiatives and funding and specifically how much a city will receive and will the funding be dispersed.

According to the U.S. Treasury’s interim final rule, the money can be used for a laundry list of projects to assist in recovery from the pandemic. Cities can use the money to assist hospitals in staffing needs, to cover mental health needs in the community, provide housing assistance, improve infrastructure (especially water sustainability), improve broadband availability and a long litany of other projects and programs.

The League said since every cities’ needs vary, it has seen interest in a broad spectrum of projects. Some examples include expanding broadband internet access, improving dated infrastructure, providing food cards, financial support for small businesses and non-profits, etc.

“We’re seeing cities get creative in the ways they’re allocating the funds so that they have the biggest impact,” said Brittni Johnsen, Media Relations Coordinator for the Florida League of Cities.

Florida counties also received a staggering amount of money, $4.1 billion to be split between the 67 counties.

“We’ve seen numerous examples of cities and counties working together and combining their funding to maximize the impact. We’ve also seen cities solicit input from the business community prior to establishing a spending plan,” said Johnsen.

Overall oversight of the use of the ARA funding falls to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Local governments are to provide reports to the Treasury at the end of August, covering their progress since the money was sent out at the end of May through the end of July. Down the road, the Treasury will also serve as auditor.

According to Johnsen, there is also oversight being provided on the state level. The Governor’s Office coordinates with the Division of Emergency Management, the agency administering disbursement to the “non-entitlement units of local government.” The U.S. Dept. Of the Treasury serves as the auditor down the road.

The federal government has handed out an astonishing amount of money across the country to assist in the economic recovery from the pandemic. The $2 trillion ARA included $350 billion in federal funds which were broken down into $195 billion earmarked for states and the District of Columbia; $65 billion for counties; $45.6 billion for 142 metropolitan cities; $20 billion for tribal governments; and $19.5 billion for smaller local governments that are not counties, generally with populations of fewer than 50,000. Florida received $8.8 billion.

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