Submitted by Republican members of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation
Greenwich received $31.4 million in federal grants from the $1.9 trillion US program passed in 2021, called the American Rescue Plan (ARP). As Greenwich taxpayers, we realize that there is no such thing as “free” federal or state money. As a prosperous and hard-working community, our residents will pay multiples of these funds in higher taxes and inflation. We already see it. That said, it is the responsibility of your Greenwich City Municipal Government, including the First Selectman, Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) to ensure that our allocation of 31 $.4 million is spent wisely in a way that supports those most in need and invests in the future of Greenwich. This grant is a special opportunity for our community after two years of suffering imposed by COVID-19.
We worked hard with our city leaders, including the first selector, the city administrator and the ARP committee appointed by the first selector to put our priorities in the right place. The ARP budget plan allocates 89% of funds to capital projects that invest in the future of our City and its residents. These funds must strictly adhere to federal grant restrictions and parameters and will be audited to ensure compliance. We recently had to reimburse FEMA from the federal government for the misappropriation of FEMA grant funds by a resident and are acutely aware that a recipient of funds is not complying with government regulations.
Fifty-seven percent of the city’s total ARP fund allocation is budgeted to be invested in the city’s public schools. $10 million, or 32% of the budget, is used to fund environmental remediation at Greenwich High School. $8 million, or 25% of the budget, is used to improve and invest in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) of our schools.
Storm IDA has shown us that there are serious drainage and flooding issues all over Greenwich. The ARP budget funds four new projects to begin to address these issues. $9.6 million or 30% is being invested to renew the city’s sewer and drainage infrastructure projects in some of the hardest hit areas of the city. By using ARP funds to support and accelerate these projects, we are helping to alleviate drainage issues and ensure the preservation of these neighborhoods.
The proposed ARP budget also uses more than $3 million of our ARP funds to respond to affected citizens, including $1.3 million for 501(c)3 nonprofits $860,000 for the Services Department and its customers, $280,000 for HVAC upgrades and improvements. for the Greenwich Public Library and $1.1 million for affordable housing by providing seed capital to the Affordable Housing Trust. We hope this latest contribution will inspire other private sector players, including local businesses, trusts and residents, to support this public-private partnership to build affordable housing while preserving the character of the neighborhood.
A bipartisan BET majority voted to support these funding recommendations that balance current needs with investments in critical infrastructure. We encourage RTM members and our community to support these recommendations.
Republican BET, Dan Ozizmir, Mike Basham, Nisha Arora, Bill Drake, Karen Fassuliotis, Leslie Tarkington.