Vermont’s Congressman has been meeting virtually with organizations and municipalities across the state to update local leaders on aid provided in the recently passed COVID relief package. This week he met with Burlington city councilors.
Congressman Peter Welch outlines the major provisions of the American Rescue Act and then explains what the local community can expect in federal funding from the relief package during each meeting with community leaders. The Democrat told the Burlington City Council millions of dollars have been allocated to the city and school district.
“The number for Burlington is significant," Welch said. "Burlington gets $19 million directly. And then $8.3 million additionally goes to you as a county allocation. And don’t ask me to explain that because we really don’t have county government here but the way the formula worked it took into account the metro kind of area situation that’s unique in the state of Vermont. So the total amount of money that will go to Burlington is going to be $27.3 million. The Burlington School District is going to receive a separate check for $14.3 million.”
The Congressman said half the allocation will be distributed in 60 days and the remainder in six months to a year.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, said the relief funds are already impacting the city.
“We have already taken steps to lift the hiring freeze and other austerity measures that we’ve had in place over the last year in response to the passage of the legislation," the mayor said. "We are reorganizing city government to make sure that this money gets out into the community in a way that impacts and helps Burlingtonians to the greatest degree possible and we also are going to whenever possible use this once in a lifetime opportunity to make progress on some of the structural challenges that we face as a community. We’re eagerly awaiting some of the more refined rules.”
East District Progressive Jack Hanson followed up with a question to Congressman Welch regarding use of the federal funds.
“I’m wondering if you could give a high level overview from your perspective of what the restrictions are on the dollars that are coming to Burlington in terms of how we can use them," Hanson asked.
“Well I can tell you broadly that it has to be related to the COVID recovery," Welch answered. "That’s impacts on businesses, it’s impacts on individuals, it’s impacts on for instance on your non-profits like performance spaces. There can also be some capital spending like many communities are really excited about getting money that might help them with broadband.”
Welch has already met with the Winooski, Newport, South Burlington, Vergennes and Barre city councils. He is scheduled to meet with the Montpelier City Council and the Bennington County Regional Commission to further discuss the impact of the American Rescue Plan.