The Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) highlighted a new report on the City of New Orleans’ uses of its federal American Rescue Plan Act funds in a webinar on December 14 on Zoom.
The federal government has provided state and local governments with unprecedented financial relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City’s $388 million allocation is substantial by any measure. It equates to 59% of the City’s pre-pandemic recurring General Fund revenue and $996 per resident.
The federal government allows considerable flexibility in spending the money. Eligible uses include, for example, public health expenditures, offset of revenue shortfalls and certain infrastructure. With a broad range of potential uses, it is essential that the City carefully plan for the dollars to effectively address high-priority needs and provide for meaningful public oversight, as BGR urged in a 2021 report entitled Handle with Care.
BGR’s new research report enhances public oversight of the relief funds by exploring their impacts on the City’s finances and budget priorities. We also launched an online dashboard to supplement this report with interactive budget data illustrating ARPA-influenced budget trends for the City and its departments.