CLAYTON — St. Louis and St. Louis County leaders will hold separate public meetings Saturday to begin planning for an unprecedented influx of $710 million in federal stimulus dollars that some have described as a potential game-changer for the region.
The money, part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, represents the biggest infusion of federal funds into local governments in decades. Both St. Louis and St. Louis County expect to receive more in federal aid under the plan than they did from last year’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The city is in line to get $517 million, substantially more than the $35 million it received under last year’s CARES Act. The city benefited in the latest bill because the federal law tied the amount of funding to poverty, the age of housing stock and population trends.
St. Louis County, which has three times the population of the city but lower poverty and newer housing, will receive $193 million under the American Rescue Plan. The county received $173 million in CARES Act funds last year.
The latest round of federal dollars comes to cities and counties with few strings attached, allowing officials to target areas of need in their communities. But it does regulate some uses, including prohibitions on spending the money on pension obligations or for tax cuts.
Officials have said the money could go toward immediate aid, including unemployment benefits, food assistance, support for small businesses, and vaccine distribution. The funds will also likely be used to close budget gaps caused by the economic impact of COVID-19 and pay for infrastructure needs or renovations in neglected areas.
The St. Louis County Council is scheduled to meet online at 10 a.m. Saturday to discuss how to spend the $193 million heading to the county. A link to the meeting is on the county website, stlouiscountymo.gov.
The public can also listen to the council meeting by conference call by dialing 1-408-418-9388. Callers will then be asked to enter the access code: 132 944 8034#.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, an advisory board appointed by Mayor Tishaura Jones will meet to plan for the $517 million in federal funds to the city. Information about the public meeting is on the city website, www.stlouis-mo.gov.
The public can view the city meeting online at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84141524407#success
The public can also listen to the city advisory board meeting by conference call by dialing 1-646-558-8656. Callers will then be asked to enter the webinar ID: 841 4152 4407#.
Jones announced the 25-member advisory board late last month. It includes Comptroller Darlene Green, a representative of Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, Alderman Megan Green, and representatives from a range of civic, business and nonprofit groups, among others.
The panel will advise on uses for the funds; final approval will require action by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Aldermen.
Municipalities in St. Louis County will receive funding directly from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Under last year’s CARES program, the municipalities received funds through an allotment of the county’s share of funds.