San Antonio – The City of San Antonio expects it will receive a sizable slice of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — enough to replace two years’ worth of lost revenue and then some.
Though it hasn’t received an official notification yet, staff estimates the city is due $326 million in local aid under the latest COVID-19 stimulus bill. Bexar County is estimated to get $388 million, and the city believes dedicated funding for specific issues like rental assistance, homelessness assistance, the airport, and childcare will also be coming in.
However, the city doesn’t know for sure how big those other funding streams will be or what agencies they might pass through, nor does it have all detailed rules for how it has to spend its own pot of money.
“Understanding what the rules and regulations are around the American Rescue Plan, I think, is our first order of business so that we don’t inadvertently begin to spend money, number one, that isn’t permitted, but also, two, that is duplicative of some other revenue stream that’s coming down from the federal government,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said after a Thursday morning presentation to city council.
One use for the money has already come to the forefront, though — replacing lost revenue. Unlike the $270 million the city received in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars through the CARES Act, the ARP money can be used as a substitute for money the city hasn’t been receiving because of lower taxes, fees, fines, and other revenue during the pandemic.
The city estimates it will have missed out on $257.5 million by the end of FY 2021, Sep. 30, because of lower revenues. Even disregarding the revenues from the airport, which is expected to get its own assistance, the city still estimates a $179.1 million loss over two fiscal years.
“So our recommendation to the council would be to allow for the full replacement of that revenue loss,” Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez told council members.
Staff recommended to council members that the city engage with the community to determine how to best spend the money, which could also be used to further some of the goals in the so-called “recovery and resiliency” plan it passed last year. Given all the ARP funding that could be coming into the city, staff recommended partnerships as a way to leverage or augment the money.
The city’s allocation will be delivered in two portions, one in mid-May and another a year later. Unlike the CRF dollars, which had to be spent within a matter of months, the city will have through 2024 to use the funds.