‘We’re making progress’: Youngstown navigates ARP fund allocations

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown City Council and Mayor Tito Brown’s administration are working together to find a way to properly spend the $2 million U.S. Bailout (ARP) allocated to each of the seven council members . A meeting was held earlier on Wednesday to clarify what is needed.

At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Youngstown City Council, the proper way for each member to spend their $2 million in ARP money was not discussed. But, it was discussed earlier in the day at a meeting of Mayor Brown’s ARP committee, of which council members Mike Ray (4th Ward) and Anita Davis (6th Ward) are members.

“I think the message that came out of it from the mayor’s chief of staff was communication. We all need to communicate and departments need to be part of that process to make sure we can spend the money properly,” Ray said.

The council agreed to spend $200,000 of ARP money to redevelop the Mahoning Avenue corridor. It previously passed an ordinance for sidewalk works along Glenwood Avenue, but they must also be approved by the Youngstown Board of Control. It consists of Mayor Brown, who was not at Wednesday night’s meeting, as well as Chief Legal Officer Jeff Limbian and Chief Financial Officer Kyle Miasek.

The only ARP project approved by both the council and the board of control was the purchase of the former McDonald’s on Market Street for a police station. Everything else is pending.

“Part of the discussion today clarified that it was not about obstruction. It was just that more information was needed and sometimes we had to refine certain things,” Davis said.

Journalist Stan Boney: “So maybe it’s not as simple as the board adopts it and the Board of Control approves it? There will be work to do between there.
Ray: “Absolutely because compliance has to be followed and they want to make sure the money is spent properly so there’s no clawback or anything like that.”
Boney: “So you understand both sides of this?”
Ray: “Yeah, I think so, and I think we’re making progress and I think once we sort it all out, it’s going to start moving a lot faster.”

Mayor Brown said council needs to work with itself and city department heads to spend their ARP money, and that their applications need to be properly prepared with documents and invoices.

The Youngstown City Council also approved an additional $150,000 for the legal department to operate through the end of the year and $800,000 for a construction manager to manage the 20 Federal Place redevelopment project.

The board has also set a ride or treat for Oct. 31 from 5-7 p.m.

James V. Hayes