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How Will Local Governments Spend American Rescue Plan Funds?

The federal government is sending billions to cities and counties to overcome pandemic setbacks. Plans from 150 local governments offer a preview of how these dollars might be spent.

Erie County, Pa., Executive Kathy Dahlkemper announces disbursement of American Rescue Plan funds.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocated $350 billion to state, territorial, local and tribal governments, and in May, the Treasury Department began to make these funds available. The department’s guidelines for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) included requirements for a series of reports regarding their plans, their expenditures and program outcomes.

The first of these, an “Interim Report,” which includes an overview of the services that each jurisdiction intends to provide with SLFRF dollars, was due on Aug. 31. The nonprofit Results for America analyzed 150 reports from cities and counties to form a picture of the investments they plan and the data and evidence that will be used to track results from their programs. This analysis is presented in detail in a newly published ARP Data and Evidence Dashboard developed in partnership with Mathematica.

While the full list of jurisdictions that will receive ARPA funding numbers in the thousands, the reports that were available for review come from many of the country’s largest cities and counties in states severely affected by the pandemic. The tool is intended to help local governments get a better idea what is being done in other communities and inspire them to implement evidence-based interventions, said Mathematica principal researcher Candace Miller in announcing the dashboard.

The broad categories for which funds are to be used include: supporting public health expenditures; addressing negative economic impacts of the pandemic; replacing lost public-sector revenue; providing premium pay for essential workers; and investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

A few trends emerged from the first Interim Reports. More than seven in 10 jurisdictions intend to invest in public health. In addition to vaccination, contact tracing and free testing, Los Angeles will provide mobile hygiene centers to the homeless through its sanitation department. Wayne County, Mich., will establish a permanent testing lab for county sheriffs and inmates.

A similar percentage have programs to address the economic impacts of the pandemic, including support to communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Combining data sets regarding vulnerability factors such as poverty and crowding, COVID-19 cases and low-income job losses, Fairfax County, Va., has identified at-risk communities in the county that will be priority targets for its programs.

Six in 10 of the local governments will use some of their funds to replace lost revenues. The city of Atlanta intends to replenish $123 million in revenue lost from alcohol beverage, hotel and motel taxes and fine and penalty streams.

Funding Levels by County and City

With more than 10 million residents, Los Angeles County will receive the most funding of any county in the nation, at nearly $2 billion. Cook County, Ill., is the only other county in the report that will break the billion-dollar threshold, by $372,000.

Of the 10 counties whose interim reports were collected, four are in California. Eight counties will receive less than $100 million: Onondaga County, N.Y., Monterey County, Calif., Charleston County, S.C., Hamilton County, Tenn., Larimer County, Colo., Boulder County, Colo., Durham County, N.C. and Spartanburg County, S.C. Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation will receive $1.822 billion. (Funding levels for every U.S. county are provided in the following map.)

ARPA Funding by County (hover over county for amount)

Among the cities included in this first set of reports, New York is to receive the most ARPA funding at $4.26 billion. New York is one of five cities that will be receiving more than $1 billion; Washington, D.C., is to receive $2.312 billion*, Chicago $1.887 billion, Philadelphia $1.295 billion and Los Angeles $1.28 billion.

Lincoln, Neb., will receive the least of the cities in the Results for America sample at just $7 million and plans to invest in six categories: public health, COVID-19 economic impact mitigation, services to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, government revenue replacement, pilot programs and addressing equity gaps and economic mobility barriers.

A complete list of ARPA allocations for U.S. cities can be found below.

*Washington, D.C., will receive funds across all eligible categories, including state, county and city funding.
Carl Smith is a senior staff writer for Governing and covers a broad range of issues affecting states and localities. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @governingwriter.
Zoe is the digital editor for Governing.
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