Along with spending $10 million on public safety, the Saint Paul City Council allocated $15.3 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds on July 20 for workforce programs and another $340,299 to write down the cost of business licenses.

So far, Saint Paul has spent around $118 million out of its total allocation of $166.6 million in ARP funds. All of the funds need to be earmarked by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

Ling Becker, director of Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, said the city and county, which are sharing ARP dollars, have been strategic about their employment-focused investments. The funds go to a variety of programs, the largest being $11.2 million for an earn-and-learn program for people ages 18-35, and $1.5 million to expand the Right Track youth jobs program.

Becker noted that smaller programs, such as one aimed at helping young people get driver’s licenses, can have a big impact. Almost 50 percent of jobs in the county have a driver’s license requirement.

The $340,299 is for costs associated with a 25 percent reduction in fees for businesses serving food and beverages, said Laura Logsdon, who supervises ARP for the city’s Office of Financial Services.

Earlier this summer the city also allocated ARP dollars for lead pipe replacement ($19.5 million), the city’s Guaranteed Income Program that pays a monthly stipend to low-income families ($4 million), a new asset management system ($5 million), and public safety radio equipment replacement ($177,046).

The city has also used ARP funding for payroll ($20 million), tourism ($4.5 million) and affordable housing ($37.5 million).

ARP was initially signed into law in March 2021 to provide support to local governments in responding to the impact of COVID-19. Saint Paul also received roughly $23.5 million from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act for expenses related to the pandemic.

— Jane McClure


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