By Jon King /

While the $1,400 stimulus payments from the recently passed American Recovery Plan (ARP) have begun showing up in individual’s bank accounts, details are still being worked out as to exactly how the money will be provided to local communities, and just how they will be allowed to spend it.

The $1.9 trillion package includes $10.3 billion in total funding for Michigan. While $5.7 billion of that will go to the State of Michigan, the remaining $4.38 billion is dedicated to the state’s county, city, and township governments. Preliminary figures provided by the federal government indicate that Livingston County will be getting approximately $37.2 million, while the various local municipalities will be splitting up an additional $18.9 million.

A fact sheet provided by 8th District Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s Office indicates allocations for municipalities with less than 50,000 residents are capped at 75% of the locality’s most recent budget as of January 27, 2020. It appears to be based on population, with just under $99 dollars ($98.735) being allocated per resident based on the most recent census data from July 2019. And in fact, the county’s most populous municipality, Hamburg Township with 21,794 residents, received the largest share at more than $2.1 million. Next up was Genoa Township, which has 20,690 residents, and received $2.04 million. Third on the list was Green Oak Township with $1.87 million and 18,976 residents, with Brighton Township on their heels at $1.86 million and 18,865 residents. Rounding out the top five was Hartland Township, which is slated to receive nearly $1.5 million for its 15,170 residents.

The City of Howell, with 9,604 residents, should get $948,284, while the City of Brighton is listed as receiving $755,942 for its 7,656 residents. A complete rundown on the estimated amounts for each Livingston County municipality is also posted below.

While the county itself, along with its townships and cities are all provided with specific estimates of ARP payments, the county’s two villages; Fowlerville and Pinckney, are not. According to Mona Shand, who serves as Congresswoman Slotkin‘s Livingston County liaison, the allotment for villages is included in the estimate numbers for surrounding townships, but exactly what formula will be used to separate that out remains undetermined. However, the U.S. Treasury Department is in the process of finalizing the specific guidelines for the distribution and spending of the money, with plans to disburse payments in two installments, with the first taking place no later than May 10, 2021. A second distribution would then follow no earlier than twelve months after the first payment.

States, counties, and the nation’s largest cities will receive their payments directly from the federal government, while local municipalities will receive their funding through their various state governments within 30 days, so that the first local distribution should take place by June 9, 2021. However, states can apply for a 30-day extension if they anticipate an “excessive administrative burden,” meaning the latest a distribution should occur is July 9, 2021.

Local and state governments are prohibited from using the money to fund pensions or replace revenues related to tax cuts; otherwise, there are few limitations. As for what the money is meant to be sued for, four broad categories were provided in the legislation:

1. To respond to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;

2. For premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work (as determined by each recipient government) during the pandemic, providing up to $13 per hour above regular wages;

3. For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic (relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency);

4. To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments provided a detailed analysis on the ARP, which indicated that the fourth provision on infrastructure, "may be the most intriguing provision of the act. This language does not have a restriction that it be based on some form of a COVID-19 test, at least in its enacted form. This would seem to offer significant opportunity to deal with certain infrastructure issues."

Despite a meeting between local municipal leaders and Congresswoman Slotkin's office last week in which they were provided many of these details, almost every one of them contacted by WHMI indicated that they had no plans on how that money might be used, with most indicating it was not something they would even consider until they actually had the money in hand and specific rules on how it could be spent were provided.

States that fail to distribute the funds to local communities within 120 days would face monetary a penalty. They also cannot change the allocations or impose additional requirements. That requirement should prevent a replay of the current standoff in Michigan from the COVID funding package passed last December, in which the GOP-led legislature continues to hold up more than $840 million in federal aid designated for schools in an attempt to force Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to turn over her administration’s powers to close schools during the pandemic to local health departments.

The ARP provides $3.92 billion for K-12 schools in the state, along with $40 billion for colleges and universities across the nation, including $1.18 million for Cleary University in Genoa Township.