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Baltimore County Council Chair Wants Details On How American Rescue Plan Money Will Be Spent

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government
The Baltimore County Council

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration is working on a blueprint on how to spend the $161 million it’s expecting to get from the American Rescue Plan. But at Tuesday’s county council meeting the chairman pushed for details before the council signs off on that spending.

“Now that we’re sort of somewhat getting back to normal, the question is what would be the rush in not seeing a plan first,” asked chairman Julian Jones.

Budget Deputy Director Kevin Reed said they received federal guidance last week on how the money can be spent. For instance, unlike the CARES money that came last year, Reed said they can use it for water, sewer and broadband projects.

“Really focusing and using this funding as an investment opportunity for our community and its residents,” Reed said.

He added the money also can be used to help those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide more pay to essential workers.

“We’re currently in the closeout phase of CARES funding, so this appropriation will help us in our continuity to keep our COVID-19 responses ongoing,” Reed said.

County Budget Director Ed Blades noted that the council only meets monthly during the summer.

“We certainly would like to have access to the full authority to the $161 million now, as opposed to having to delay anything,” Blades said.

The council is expected to vote May 27 on whether to give the administration the authority to start spending the American Rescue Plan money.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2