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Wilmington and New Hanover County will receive millions from American Rescue Plan Act

Vince Winkel

Wilmington and New Hanover County will soon be flush with cash from the American Rescue Plan, amounting to nearly $26 million for the city and $45 million for the county. But while the first distributions should arrive on May 11, the federal government has yet to provide specific rules and regulations for spending.

Still, City of Wilmington staff outlined some options for the council at the agenda review meeting Monday morning, based on the four categories of eligible fund use:

  • Coronavirus Response & Relief
  • Higher Wages for Public Employees
  • Replacement Revenue
  • Investments in Water, Sewer and Broadband Infrastructure

Staff suggestions included support for small businesses impacted by COVID, infrastructure spending, workforce housing, non-profit assistance, and providing for city employee sick leave due to coronavirus.

Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Haynes said she supported working with the county and state on a broadband project, along with addressing the housing crisis.
“The other thing is working with the county on unsheltered folks and perhaps working with them on creating some sort of day shelter,” she said.

Several other councilors agreed that much of the funding should go towards affordable housing projects.

Councilor Kevin O’Grady, however, said this money should be used to prevent a tax increase in the next budget cycle. “It’s a modest increase that’s proposed here, but it certainly seems like our citizens could do without an increase," he said. "That would be a nice thing for us to pass on to them.”

City staff are set to bring more official recommendations to the council once they have more information from the federal government.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.