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Superior mayor proposes American Rescue Plan Act budget

Proposal includes money for infrastructure, public safety, recreation and to address social issues

Government Center in Superior
Government Center, Superior, Wisconsin.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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Superior’s City Council will take its first look at how it could spend more than $17 million in federal money allocated to the city through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Mayor Jim Paine is presenting his proposal on how to use the federal dollars awarded as state and local fiscal recovery funds to state, tribal and local governments.

Superior underwent significant social and economic change throughout the nearly two-year pandemic, Paine wrote in a memo to the council. City residents faced the same challenges as Americans across the country, including job loss, supply shortages, communitywide closures, remote work and school, and the ongoing uncertainty and risk of the virus itself, he wrote.

“The fiscal impact of the pandemic on the city is difficult to determine,” Paine stated. “Most sources of city revenue have remained stable or increased, though often not at the pace of increased expenses.”

The proposed budget fills budget gaps, makes ambitious public investments and recognizes the world and daily life have changed since the beginning of 2020, Paine said.

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“The city could exhaust its … funds merely mitigating the impacts of COVID-19,” the mayor said. “That would fail the spirit and intent of the law. This budget adapts the city to changes we have all experienced but, in keeping with the goals of congress and the president, envisions a better future.”

Money in the budget is allocated for infrastructure projects, police and fire department equipment and vehicles, outdoor recreational and neighborhood improvements, small business and nonprofit grants, and to provide services to the homeless and those with mental health issues.

The mayor’s proposed expenditures include:

Connect Superior: $5 million to create a fund to launch a user-funded, municipal broadband network. All expenses over $25,000 would require council approval. An enterprise fund budget is anticipated later this year.

Historic rehabilitation: $4 million. All purchases and projects require council approval before funds are released.

Superior police body and squad cameras and tasers: $500,000

Superior police hybrid squads: $1.5 million

Superior fire radio equipment, medical and personal protective equipment: $350,000.

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Superior fire rapid response vehicles: $82,000

Woodstock Bay revitalization: $1 million

Park improvements: $1.25 million

Tree fund: $100,000

Neighborhood improvements: $750,000

Hammond Avenue storm water improvements: $600,000

Nonprofit grants: $1.25 million

Homelessness: $500,000

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Mental health services: $100,000

Administrative and government services: $100,000

Most of the proposed expenditures were reviewed by Ehlers public finance advisers and assessed to be a low risk for violating rules established by the U.S. Treasury Department.

The council considers the budget during a committee of the whole meeting after the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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