The City of Akron is ahead of many nearby cities, in that it has already approved how it wants to spend its $145 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
Though the projects have been approved throughout the last year, city officials gave a presentation detailing how the ARPA dollars will be spent earlier this week.
The largest funding category was $48 million for parks and public places, followed by $26 million for housing. Other large categories include $15.6 million for utility bill assistance and utility maintenance, $10.5 million for surveillance, police and violence prevention grants and $10 million for employee premium pay.
One of Akron’s standout programs is $20 million for home repairs, which is twice the size of an ARPA-funded project by the much-larger City of Cleveland. Other projects included parks, recreation centers and more.
Like some other government agencies, Akron also approved spending $10 million on $2,000 retention bonuses for classified city employees, a distinction that does not include the mayor, the mayor’s cabinet, the clerk of court and municipal court judges.
Parks and public spaces
The largest expense in this category is for renovations to the Ed Davis Community Center. The $10.7 million allocated to the community center renovations includes a new gym, an indoor track, an outdoor playground, according to Akron’s website. The project has yet to begin, but Akron hopes to break ground on it early next year and finish it in spring 2024.
The second largest expense will be $6.2 million to renovate the Perkins Pool, add a waterslide, aquatic rock-climbing wall and upgrade the bathhouse.
The largest expense in the housing category is $20 million for a home repair fund, $1 million of which has been spent so far. The project is still in its early stages, with only 20 home repairs complete so far. The most common home repairs funded by this project include roofs, furnaces and hot water tanks, according to city documents.
The second largest expense in this category is $3.5 million for affordable housing. The funds in this category flow to community development groups to spend money redeveloping abandoned homes, installing air conditioning/HVAC units in low-income buildings and more, city documents show. None of the $3.5 million has been spent yet.
Nearly $11 million of the utility expenses will be for replacing main water pipes, many of which contain lead. A separate $2.5 million aims to replace smaller lead-containing pipes. The city has also set aside $2 million in one-time utility assistance of up to $500. The city claims the utility assistance program has helped more than 2,200 households.
The largest expense in this category is $7.5 million for violence prevention grants. Multiple organizations, such as the Rape Crisis Center, 100 Black Men of Akron, Inc., South Street Ministries, Students With A Goal and others. These groups focus on youth mentorship, afterschool programming, re-entry support and more.
Akron will also be funding multiple police surveillance programs including $914,000 for cameras in South Akron, $500,000 for license plate readers, and between 3,000 and 5,000 personal doorbell cameras.
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