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Saginaw gets input from residents on how to spend stimulus cash

Survey shows residents favor crime and fire prevention spending and housing improvements.
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:04 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - We got our first indication what the residents of Saginaw think on how to spend Covid relief money as results of a survey were announced today.

Crime and fire prevention were the top priorities for the one thousand or so people who returned surveys. But the city is still looking for guidance on what the money can and can’t be used for.

“Its not a point where we are going to fund x, y and z, with this dollar amount, I think we need a lot more input and we need final rules to do that process,” says Saginaw City Manager Tim Morales.

But today, Saginaw city leaders got some input from residents on how to use the $52 million in American Rescue Plan Act federal stimulus funds in a Strategic Planning Session at the Tempe Theatre.

An online questionnaire asked residents to rank their priorities for spending the stimulus and the results of that survey showed 25 percent of respondents put crime and fire prevention at the top. Morales believes both the police and fire departments can upgrade aging equipment with the relief money.

“We are looking for the final rules to come out first, but especially revenue loss portion, I think you can use for capital costs, but you can’t use it for debt reduction,” says Morales.

He believes youth crime prevention programs could also be funded with the money. The second most pressing need, housing and neighborhood revitalization. while public infrastructure came in third, economic development opportunities fourth, and social program and non profits came in fifth.

Morales says past surveys have shown affordable housing is a concern.

“There is a lack of housing and the need for additional housing, senior housing as well as family housing, so how we can impact that with these funds is something we will look at,” says Morales.

Council members also raised the idea of offering payments to residents as a way to give some financial relief to people hit hard by the pandemic, but again, its not clear yet if the stimulus money could be used for that at this point.

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