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Olszewski Presents "Flexible" Plan For Spending American Rescue Plan Money

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, April 9, 2021. Credit: Baltimore County
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Council Chairman Julian Jones and Councilman Wade Kach, April 9, 2021. Credit: Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski has laid out what one official called a “flexible blueprint” for spending the $161 million Baltimore County is expecting to get from the American Rescue Plan that passed Congress in March.

It comes after county council members wanted more details before allowing Olszewski to spend the money.

“This is kind of a $161 million check without knowing exactly what it’s going to and that, of course can make the council nervous,” said Republican County Councilman Todd Crandell.

He and his fellow council members were appeased by what they heard. For example, the executive said he has slated $45 million for capital improvements like water, sewer and expanded broadband. There is also $20 million set aside for one-time bonuses in July for public safety and public health employees. Another $16 million will be spent on PPE supplies.

There is $5 million set aside for public and behavioral health. Deputy Budget Director Kevin Reed told the council at its May 27 meeting that amount could be increased, “If things change significantly this Fall and the need for testing ramps up again or we begin vaccinating children under the age of 12, or potentially providing booster shots to the general public.”

The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion package of COVID-19 economic relief. It includes $65 billion in direct aid to localities. Baltimore City is receiving more than $641 million. Howard County is getting around $63 million. Anne Arundel County is receiving more than $112 million.

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