Mayor W. Reed Gusciora released the first version of the Trenton American Rescue Plan (ARP) proposal, which allocates more than $70.82 million in direct federal aid to combat the lingering economic effects of COVID-19 by building youth and neighborhood resilience, transforming outdated infrastructure and making critical investments in local jobs and businesses.
“This plan incorporates much of the feedback we’ve received from City Council, concerned community stakeholders, and numerous employee organizations that were impacted greatly by the pandemic,” said Mayor Gusciora. “This plan is focused on addressing many of the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, including spikes in violent crime, shrinking job and business opportunities, and a workforce that endured hundreds of COVID-19 cases while continuing to provide critical services. We expect this plan to evolve as we reach out to more residents, receive additional U.S. Treasury guidance and continue our ongoing discussions with City Council.”
The plan outlines 38 spending items across three major themes that highlight U.S. Treasury guidance concerning negative COVID-19 economic impacts, public health support, and replacing lost public sector revenue:
- Building youth and neighborhood resilience: $32.47 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Trenton residents, students, and employees, including $15 million in direct support to Trenton households, $8 million in hazard pay for city workers who were active throughout the pandemic, $2 million to expand mental health services, $500,000 in youth neighborhood counseling to combat violent crime, and more than $6 million in arts and recreation programming.
- Transforming aging infrastructure: $21.72 million to counter municipal COVID-19 budget shortfalls that have prevented much-needed investments in city infrastructure, including $14.5 million for facility repairs and HVAC improvements at the TWW Filtration Plant, Animal Shelter, Municipal Court, Trenton Free Public Library, Trenton Police Headquarters, and multiple historic sites.
- Investing in local jobs and businesses: $16.63 million to improve job training and business support programs, including a $5 million local venture capital fund, $4 million in expanded Urban Enterprise Zone support for local businesses, and more than $6.5 million in new internship and job training programs.
The plan was first introduced on a community Zoom meeting on June 23, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The plan is available here: Trenton’s American Rescue Plan Project | Talk Trenton.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan contains $360 billion in state and local aid to help employ essential workers, assist struggling families and small businesses, and make critical infrastructure investments. Trenton will receive $72,913,998 across two payments, the first $36.5 million of which was received on May 19, 2021. City Council voted to adopt a Resolution to accept this first round of funding on May 27, 2021.
The funds received must be appropriated by the City no later than Dec. 31, 2024 and expended by Dec. 31, 2026.
Eligible expenses include supporting public health costs, addressing negative economic impacts related to COVID-19, replacing lost public sector revenue, providing premium pay for essential workers, and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. Generally, municipalities must assess whether and how the proposed use would respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and identify the connection between the negative impact and how the assistance alleviates that impact.
The interim U.S. Treasury guidance offers wide latitude to support public health initiatives and resources, including COVID-19 mitigation and containment, medical expenses, and behavioral and mental health services. This also includes capital investments in public facilities to meet operational requirements related to the pandemic. Municipalities are also empowered to address negative economic impacts for individuals, households, small businesses, and non-profits, especially in low-income and socially vulnerable communities.
The Gusciora Administration and City Council are currently considering options based on the updated guidance. Following the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the Office of the Mayor also assembled an advisory committee of city officials, policy experts, and community leaders to help evaluate upcoming projects.
Residents interested in learning more about the American Rescue Plan can visit https://talktrenton.org/trenton-american-rescue-plan-advisory-committee.