MERIDIAN TWP., Mich. — The Meridian Township Board has begun discussing what to do with the $4.5 million in American Rescue Plan money the township expects to receive. Suggestions include broadband, roads and windscreens for the farmer's market.
In March of 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, providing $30.5 billion in federal funding to support states during the pandemic. Now municipalities like Meridian Township are trying to decide what to spend the money on.
“Meridian Township is going to receive just over $4.5 million. We received half of that already and the other half will be coming in about six months,” said Township Manager Frank Walsh.
Walsh has been reviewing requests from the community and recommended a plan for the money to the board.
“One is infrastructure, water, sewer roads," Walsh said. "Can we augment our current local millage that we have for roads to do even more roads? Because that's something that's important to our residents. And then also police and fire. What sort of things can we improve there? We're looking at some automatic cots, some that would be to the benefit of our paramedics and to our patients.”
The biggest expense on Walsh's list is broadband improvements. Walsh said $1.5 million would be set aside to support Ingham County's efforts to expand broadband in the township. While he doesn't know exactly what that looks like in the future, it could include things like free WiFi in the township parks.
The next biggest expense would be allocating $1.4 million to the 2023 local road program.
"Some of those things have come up recently, but roads has always been there, it's at the top of the list for our residents,” Walsh said.
Other recommendations are IT improvements, fire department power cots, access control and enhanced video surveillance security system and adding windscreens to the townships Marketplace on the Green.
Walsh said it's now up to the township board to decide to take his suggestions or not, but he wants the money be used for improvements not new things.
“One thing I would ask them not to do is create new programs that are unsustainable, you know, we spend the money here, but it's something that's not sustainable, because you don't have the funding in '23, '24 and '25 to keep it up," Walsh said.
Walsh said the board will come up with a final plan over the next four to six months. The money doesn't have to be spent for close to three years.
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