By Richard Sullins |

The City of Sanford is expected to receive just under $10 million in COVID relief funds from the federal government as its share of the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Biden earlier this year.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has notified the city that it will receive a total of $9,588,013 over a two-year period, with half coming during the current fiscal year and the remainder to be allocated during 2022. The act requires that the first distributions to cities must be made by August 25.

Although the final regulations on how the funds can be spent won’t be published until September, there are some general guidelines available already on what local governments may use the money for, including to support public health expenditures, address negative economic impacts created by the response to the pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers, and to invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

Among potential uses Treasury points to are assistance to unemployed workers (including job training), data systems upgrades, direct aid to households, rehiring government staff, assistance to small businesses and nonprofits, and aid to impacted industries (especially hospitality, tourism, and travel).

The proposed rules being drafted would also provide even greater flexibility for local spending in lower-income neighborhoods (in Qualified Census Tracts) and spending targeted to other areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Further guidance from the federal government is expected within a few weeks.

“These funds might be more restricted than most, but our task will be to see how well we can get creative within that restrictive framework,” said Mayor Chet Mann. “I’m more than confident that we can.”