City of Pueblo expects nearly $37 million from recent COVID stimulus bill
The city of Pueblo will receive $36.7 million from the recently passed American Rescue Plan, Mayor Nick Gradisar announced during Monday’s city council meeting.
Half of that sum will come in early May and the other half will come in approximately one year. The county and school districts will also get their own payments separate from the city.
“We’re trying to coordinate with the entities that are going to get this money and make sure we put that money to the best use we can for the entire community. It’s really good news for us going forward.” Gradisar said.
The $1.9 trillion relief package passed along party lines in Congress on March 11, the first legislative victory of the Biden presidency. The most-scrutinized aspect of the package is the $1,400 in direct payments to eligible individuals, but it also provides $350 billion in aid to state and local governments.
It’s significantly more than the approximate $6 million the city received in CARES Act funding last year.
Like the CARES Act money, these new stimulus funds can be used for assistance to individuals, businesses and non-profits, as well as aid industries impacted by the pandemic like travel, tourism and hospitality. It can also be used for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure projects.
The city will put together task forces for each of those categories to determine how the money should be spent.
“You can also use it, unlike the CARES money, for premium pay for employees. Under some circumstances, you can use it to replace income that the city lost as a result of COVID in its budget,” Gradisar said. He noted, however, that the city’s sales tax income was higher in 2020 than in 2019.
Gradisar said his office also sent a priority list to Colorado’s federal delegation in anticipation of an upcoming $3 trillion infrastructure bill. Congressional lawmakers — in an effort to encourage bipartisanship — are allowing limited earmarks on the bill, which are opportunities for lawmakers to secure funding for projects in their own constituencies.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, CO-3, is opposed to the reintroduction of earmarks.
“At the top of that list is the Union Avenue bridge replacement project,” Gradisar said.
That project to replace the 100-year-old bridge would cost around $25 million.
The priority list also includes reconstructing the stretch of Interstate 25 that runs through Pueblo, though the high cost of that project makes it an unlikely earmark candidate.
Chieftain reporter Sara Wilson can be reached via email at SWilson@gannett.com or on Twitter: @WilsonSaraJane.