A few small Wisconsin towns are rejecting federal coronavirus relief funding


Tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in federal coronavirus reduction funding are being funneled to native governments throughout Wisconsin as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act, a large federal stimulus bundle.

However just a few small Wisconsin communities have turned down the cash.

4 Wisconsin communities — the city of Wooden River, the city of Huge Falls, the village of Conrath and the city of Piehl — rejected a complete of $129,266. That is a miniscule fraction of the $410 million despatched to greater than 1,800 small communities throughout Wisconsin. 

The state’s Division of Income took duty for distributing the help to these small communities, that are often called non-entitlement items and usually have populations beneath 50,000. Bigger jurisdictions, together with many cities and counties, acquired the federal funding straight. 

Nationwide information: Rejecting ARPA support is uncommon

Throughout the nation, it has been uncommon for communities to show down ARPA funding, and the locations which have performed so are usually very small, stated Mike Wallace, a legislative director for the Nationwide League of Cities.

“The calculation they’re making is, ‘How a lot would it not price to manage this program domestically, versus how a lot we might be capable to plug again into the economic system, both by serving to residents or sustaining authorities companies and operations?'” Wallace stated.  “And I feel that, for the smallest grantees, the quantity of funds is actually too small to undergo the executive burden.”

The league analyzed how 15 states allotted funding from the historic stimulus bundle and located that, inside that pattern, lower than 3 p.c of the communities with populations beneath 50,000 had chosen to say no funding. The typical inhabitants of a group that turned down the cash was 261 folks, and was eligible for lower than $100,000.

“It is exceedingly small quantities,” Wallace stated. “What that basically tells us is that the funding, the grants that went to native governments — they had been crucial. They had been wanted.”  

Throughout the nation, municipalities received $65 billion from the $1.9 trillion rescue bundle, and the potential for these {dollars} is “very versatile,” Wallace stated.

Amongst different makes use of, native governments may institute premium pay for important staff or put money into infrastructure, like broadband web or water and sewer tasks. The cash could be spent straight on COVID-19 mitigation — issues like bettering air flow at a county constructing — in addition to a broader vary of public well being tasks, like stopping violence. Moreover, communities may give help to teams deemed to have been harm disproportionately by the pandemic, and that is ranged from grants to companies to emergency housing vouchers to at-risk households. Plus, native governments can use a part of the funds for administrative and payroll prices wanted to manage ARPA packages themselves.

Why some Wisconsin cities are rejecting the help

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The city of Huge Falls in rural Rusk County was slated to obtain ARPA funding in 2020 and 2021. However Jim Jennerman, who works as Huge Falls’ part-time clerk, stated he does not consider the city of round 100 folks has a lot use for the cash. In 2020, Huge Falls solely had $117,171 in whole bills, in response to Wisconsin’s Division of Income.

“We’re a sufficiently small group that we actually weren’t impacted all that a lot by COVID itself,” Jennerman stated.

Huge Falls would have acquired a complete of $13,293. By comparability, town of Milwaukee acquired greater than $394 million and Madison received $47 million.

Small Wisconsin communities had till mid-2021 to let the state know in the event that they deliberate to just accept the cash. The overwhelming majority of locations that did settle for now have till 2024 to earmark the funding for particular makes use of, and till the tip of 2026 to spend it. 

“It was plenty of paperwork piled on high of all the opposite paperwork that clerks should do — that me, as a 71-year-old retired particular person, do not actually should waste my time doing,” Jennerman stated.

Though the cash would have been delivered as a grant relatively than mortgage needing compensation, Jennerman added, “I nonetheless needed to report the whole lot that I received, and the state had their hooks on me sufficient as it’s.”

Farther north in Oneida County, the 90-person city of Piehl rejected $8,896 in COVID-19 funding. Piehl’s funds is small — lower than $100,000 — and the pandemic did not have a lot impression on each day operations, the city’s chair Joseh Dessellier stated. 

“All we needed to do was purchase some cleansing provides for the elections and that is it,” Dessellier stated. “We now have no different amenities on the town.”

Officers with the City of Wooden River in Burnett County and the village of Conrath in Rusk County couldn’t be reached for remark. Wooden River, which has fewer than 1,000 residents, turned down $97,446. Fewer than 100 folks stay in Conrath, which rejected $9,629 from the stimulus bundle.