City of La Crosse has yet to commit to spending more than $16 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds

Of the roughly $22 million the city is expecting to receive from the federal government, it's committed to spending more than $5.4 million

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The city of La Crosse needs to spend some money.

So far, it has allocated $5.4 million of the roughly $22 million in American Rescue Plan Act money its expecting.

For example, some of that money will be used to buy and operate the Maple Grove Motel as bridge housing for the city’s homeless.

“A little over $16 million is still left for the (common) council to say ‘Yes. These are the types of projects we want that spent on,'” Common Council President Barb Janssen said.

According to the city’s ARPA Fund Allocation List, these projects address supporting childcare, giving grants to small businesses, and providing down payments to help out low-income families.

“Emails have come in,” Janssen said. “Phone calls from residents, businesses, ‘This is how we’d like to see it done.'”

The mayor’s resolution also calls for setting aside another $2.5 million to clean up lead that has contaminated the La Crosse Marsh.

“That’s been hanging over our heads for years,” Janssen said.

Janssen says new federal government rules allow the city to set aside $10 million of ARPA money as lost revenue in a separate account.

Those funds would address projects not currently on the ARPA eligibility list, such as property development.

Janssen says the dollars would also cover part of next year’s operating budget, keeping property taxes lower.

“So it actually increases our flexibility, I guess, to serve the needs of our residents,” Janssen said.

The city received the first half of its ARPA funds last spring.

It has yet to get the other half, but Janssen says it should arrive around the same time as last year.

The deadline to spend this money won’t change, which Janssen says is by 2024.

“We’re going to make the money go as far as we possibly can,” Janssen said.

A rare opportunity to use tens of millions of federal grant dollars to improve where we live.

Mayor Mitch Reynolds sponsored the resolution that describes where all the money is going.

The city’s Finance & Personnel Committee will vote on the resolution Thursday at the South Side Neighborhood Center.

After the vote, the proposal will move on to the Common Council for a final recommendation.

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