St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Wednesday that the city will hold three community workshops in July to determine where to allocate more than $45.4 million provided to the local government by the American Rescue Plan.
“In order to truly lead, you have to be willing to listen and to learn,” Kriseman said Wednesday. “And as such, we have decided to treat this unique opportunity a bit differently than we do our annual budget, for example.”
The federal funding, part of the $350 billion allocated by the national COVID-19 relief package to local governments, will be made in equal installments to the city this summer and the next, St. Pete’s Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin said at the announcement.
“As the Mayor has described, largely in response to feedback that we’ve received from constituents throughout our city, we will work with the community to identify and prioritize the eligible areas of impact for St. Pete’s American Rescue Plan funding,” Tomalin said.
The three workshops will employ a ranking system of priorities, where participants — like City Council members and residents — can list where they think where to allocate the money. The different workshops will be held in geographically diverse areas, she said.
The provided feedback will ultimately guide what the Mayor presents to the City Council concerning funding recommendations.
“This opportunity presents an important and incredible time to exercise our long-held belief in community empowerment,” Tomalin said. “We are excited to invite our citizens to participate in our continued recovery through a very tangible process.”
Tomalin said there are eight eligible areas of impact, although the city will be open to hearing areas of impact that residents put forth in the workshops. Currently, the areas include affordable housing and neighborhoods, health equity, infrastructure, economic development, resilience and sustainability, research services, transportation and public safety.
“This is an issue that touches every quarter of our community and is particularly defined by our ability to ensure access, equity, opportunity and maintain forward trajectory for our city,” Tomalin said.
Outside of the $45 million provided to the local government, more than $31 million in direct aid has already been or will be deployed to St. Pete residents, local businesses and their employees through various programs helping in pandemic recovery, Tomalin said.
“We need an equitable recovery from COVID-19,” Kriseman said. “St Pete is bouncing back, but we can’t rest until we get everyone back, not only to where we were before the pandemic, but to an even better place, a more equitable space.”
More information on the July workshops will be forthcoming, Tomalin said.