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Follow the money: Spokane, county have general plans for $208 million in COVID-19 stimulus dollars

UPDATED: Mon., March 14, 2022

Spokane County and Spokane have released general plans outlining how they'll spend some their American Rescue Plan dollars.   (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane County and Spokane have released general plans outlining how they'll spend some their American Rescue Plan dollars.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Local politicians have started to outline how they’ll spend the $208 million Spokane County and its cities got through the American Rescue Plan.

The region may never see another federal payout that big, so how elected officials spend the money matters. Their choices could affect county residents for generations.

Spokane County and the city of Spokane got the lion’s share of the region’s $208 million. Each jurisdiction has now released a general plan for how it’ll spend its piece of the pie.

On Tuesday, the Spokane County commissioners approved a plan for spending $43 million of the county’s $102 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

Spokane City Council has approved plans for spending $26 million of the city’s $81 million allocation.

The initial plans are short on details, but here’s what’s known so far about where the money’s going.

$19 million: Infrastructure

Spokane County has made infrastructure its top priority.

The commissioners set aside $19 million – nearly a fifth of their funds – for water and high-speed internet projects.

  • $5.5 million for stormwater improvements.
  • $5 million for broadband internet.
  • $4 million for water transmission and distribution.
  • $2 million for water conservation.
  • $2 million for various water and sewer projects.
  • $500,000 for drinking water storage.

Road and bridge projects are mostly ineligible for American Rescue Plan dollars.

Spokane hasn’t dedicated any money to infrastructure.

$15 million: Housing

Spokane has already decided to use more than 10% of its money to address the housing crisis.

  • $6 million for affordable housing.
  • $2 million for down payment assistance for first-time, low-income homeowners.
  • $1.5 million to reimburse permit fees paid by attainable housing builders.
  • $1 million to develop plans for increasing housing along transportation corridors.
  • $300,000 for an eviction legal defense and education program.

Spokane County has set aside $4.5 million for affordable housing.

$11 million: Revenue replacement

Local governments can use some of their American Rescue Plan money to replace revenue lost due to the pandemic.

A federal formula determines the amount that can go toward revenue replacement. Some governments will want to max out their revenue replacement allocations because they can spend those dollars however they want.

Spokane County will put $9.4 million – the maximum – toward 2020 revenue replacement.

Spokane can use up to $21 million for 2020 revenue replacement, but hasn’t yet decided to max out the category.

As of March, the city has set aside some revenue replacement dollars to pay firefighter overtime expenses and $1.45 million to repair and upgrade the Don Kardong Bridge.

$9 million: Kids

Spokane County plans to spend $5 million on addressing “educational disparities.” The money is for academic purposes or social and emotional services.

Spokane will use $3 million for “behavioral health services and interventions for at-risk and low-income youth.”

The city has also set aside $1 million for child care providers.

$3.9 million: Public health

Spokane County has dedicated $2.7 million toward public health. Spokane intends to spend $1.2 million on mobile medical clinics.

$3.5 million: Homelessness

Spokane has set aside $3.5 million for homeless service capital and operational costs.

$2 million: Administrative costs

The county is using $1.5 million for administrative expenses compared to $545,000 for the city.

$7 million: Various

Spokane has outlined a few goals for its American Rescue Plan dollars that don’t fall cleanly into one of the above categories.

  • $2 million for “American Rescue Plan Act-focused projects of citywide significance.”
  • $1.1 million for play equipment and bathroom upgrades in city parks. Parks in the lowest income areas will get upgrades first.
  • $1 million for “employment support in the arts.”
  • $900,000 for grants to “reimburse marketing costs and police/fire owed to the city associated with downtown cultural events.”
  • $400,000 for a “construction pre-apprenticeship educational program targeted towards individuals involved in or at-risk of involvement in the criminal justice system.”
  • $300,000 for an equity navigator service.

Spokane County is spending $500,000 on “effective service delivery” and giving $750,000 to nonprofit organizations.

S-R reporter Greg Mason contributed to this report.

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