ARPA money turned around financial prognosis for American cities

Feb 28, 2022

Mayors from across the United States said in 2020 they were worried that the pandemic was going to lead to significant budget cuts for things like education, parks and transportation. A year later, the 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors found that most city executives are looking to make “transformative” investments with federal aid.

The annual Menino Survey produced by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities compiled responses from the leaders of 126 American cities and reported that 78 percent of mayors see the $65 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding for cities as money that “will allow them to accomplish transformative aims” that might have been politically impossible otherwise. Eighteen percent are eyeing the ARPA money “to fill gaps in normal expenditures.”

“I want to take these one-time dollars...and we want to do something very un-sexy [and] pay it forward to our kids and grandkids, in terms of really shoring up our infrastructure, in terms of transportation, transit investment, trails, those things, and then also the water infrastructure, which is usually a politically tougher thing to do because elected officials like to do something shiny and say, ‘I did that,’ so fixing a water treatment plant isn’t exactly the sexiest thing, but that’s exactly what I think these one-time dollars are for,” said an unnamed mayor quoted in the Menino Survey.

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