As many Americans are deciding what to do with their $1,400 stimulus checks, Vermont Rep. Peter Welch says he wants cities and towns to have the same flexibility with federal aid from the American Rescue Plan.
St. Albans City will receive just shy of $2 million dollars, while the town will get another $1.9 million. Welch says allocating the funds can’t be micro–managed from Washington; city counselors will be better aware of the region’s needs.
“I’m sure you like getting flexibility, but it comes with an immense amount of responsibility,” Welch said. “Because your leadership is really going to be a set of once-in-a-lifetime decisions that you’re making on behalf of your town.”
Mayor Tim Smith says St. Albans hasn’t suffered as much as other towns, which he chalks up to people supporting local businesses.
“I don’t know that we’ve had a downtown business close,” Mayor Smith said. “So we’ve been very fortunate from that perspective, but at the same time, we want to help all the businesses in the community rebound to even a higher level than they were in 2020 or 2019.”
Welch says it will be a challenge to best allocate the funds, but laid out a few options. He says it can be used to make up lost revenue from COVID-19, adjust employee wages or to fund water, sewer and broadband projects.
“I know many towns, and I know St Albans very much among them, have significant capital projects that need attention,” he said.
Welch added the Maple Run School District will also get $8.9 million as part of the American Rescue Plan.