Spokane is nearly prepared to begin spending its $81 million chunk of pandemic relief approved by Congress in March.
Following months of discussion, members of the Spokane City Council agreed Monday on a process to review requests for funding.
“I’m super happy to be to this point,” said Council President Breean Beggs.
The council had fine-tuned its American Rescue Plan process over the course of several weeks, looking to balance calls for inclusion from both the administration and some council members.
Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson acknowledged frustration in the community “at the pace at which these funds are going out.” But she defended the council, saying it has engaged in a “thoughtful process” with the administration.
“I think we will get the best outcomes based on what we have designed here,” Wilkerson said.
Now, the council and Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration are expected to solicit community feedback and start working their way through spending proposals.
Monday’s resolution did not allocate money, which will occur over the coming months and years. The city received half of the $81 million this year and will receive the second half in 2022, but it has until the end of 2024 to spend the money.
Rather, the resolution outlined a multistage process through which any spending request must travel.
It begins with a simple email to the council’s American Rescue Plan Act project coordinator. There is no detailed application.
“This is to make it as easy as possible for any person or group to suggest an idea, but the more detail that is provided on the proposal will make it easier for the City Council Workgroup to evaluate the proposal faster,” the resolution states.
Proposals will be evaluated by a workgroup of three City Council members – Wilkerson, Beggs and Candace Mumm.
The workgroup will forward proposals it deems valid to the administration for input before bringing it to the full City Council for review during a study session.
If the proposal receives the blessing of the full City Council, it will return to the workgroup for finalization before an official vote by the council.
The city held a virtual public forum to garner feedback on American Rescue Plan spending on Tuesday. It was streamed on the city’s Facebook page and on City Cable 5 and can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3A1HWL7..
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