Greater than 500 small Minnesota cities opted to not take federal COVID assist – Minnesota Reformer

The city of Vermilion, Minnesota, is certainly one of greater than 500 small cities and cities throughout the state that selected to not take federal pandemic stimulus funds. Photograph by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.
Solway, Minnesota, inhabitants 73, is so small it doesn’t have law enforcement officials, only a handful of elected officers.
There’s Metropolis Clerk Jennifer Trammell, her husband (a metropolis councilman) and different council members who receives a commission to satisfy month-to-month, primarily to keep up town.
“It’s a really small, easy metropolis,” Trammell mentioned. “We now have like three paved streets inside our metropolis.”
Solway leaders determined to not settle for cash that the federal authorities supplied to assist it deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There would’ve been no manner for us to make use of any of the cash,” Trammell mentioned.
Solway will not be alone. It’s certainly one of 506 small Minnesota cities and cities that opted to not take a bit of a virtually $20 billion federal stimulus pie put aside for small cities throughout America.
About all they’d have needed to do is say “sure” — no prolonged software, no aggressive bidding — however they mentioned no. Or extra precisely, they didn’t say sure.
They’re all small cities, with populations starting from 5 to 2,329 individuals, and their common cost would have been about $23,000, in keeping with Amy Jorgenson, director of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Response Accountability Workplace, which administers the federal funds. One other 2,100 Minnesota cities and cities did request the cash.
In 2020, about one-third of small U.S. cities acquired left behind by the $2.2 trillion financial stimulus CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump. So when Congress handed one other $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package deal final yr, the American Rescue Plan Act, it included cash for each metropolis, city and village nationwide, in the event that they wished it.
About $2 billion was put aside for cities and cities with fewer than 50,000 residents.
In Minnesota, practically $12 million was not claimed and was redistributed to different cities.
Some small cities (though none in Minnesota) even formally rejected the help. In 12 states with full information, 175 small communities rejected the funds, in keeping with the Nationwide League of Cities. These cities had a median inhabitants of 348, and the median quantity they might have gotten was about $77,000, in keeping with Martin Brown, program supervisor within the Heart for Metropolis Options on the Nationwide League of Cities.
“Fifty-thousand can get you possibly two streetlights,” Brown mentioned.
The deadline for smaller Minnesota cities to say sure to the largesse — $377 million in ARP funds — was Oct. 11. Half of the cash has been distributed thus far.
Though the cities didn’t have to use for the funds, Brown mentioned lots of them in all probability don’t have the employees to handle the cash. The funds can be utilized for administration, so the League inspired small cities to take a shot at it or companion with neighboring cities or counties on a undertaking.
“These locations are unbelievably small,” Brown mentioned. “Numerous these small cities and villages have by no means obtained federal funds.”
Like McGrath, Minnesota, with a inhabitants of 80, up from 70 in 1970. It’s a metropolis whose largest employer is town, with 5 workers — yet another employee than the 4 employed over at Pour Lewy’s Saloon, in keeping with town web site.
Or Bena, Minnesota, inhabitants 116, the place town corridor voicemail says if you happen to’re on the lookout for cemetery burial info, name John at one other quantity.
Or Watson, a metropolis in Chippewa County that calls itself the “Goose Capitol of the USA,” because of the giant variety of Canada geese that migrate via each fall. Name town clerk and also you get a voicemail that claims, “If this can be a water or sewer emergency, name Byron.”
Or Chickamaw Seaside, which is 30 miles north of Brainerd on the shores of Norway Lake. It has a inhabitants of 128 and is “rising quickly,” in keeping with Metropolis Clerk Edward Henk.
He’s certainly one of two full-time metropolis workers; the opposite is the city treasurer. The town council and mayor receives a commission by the assembly, however the metropolis has no companies, colleges, hearth division or police division.
“It’s mainly sustaining our neighborhood,” Henk mentioned. “It’s fairly quiet.”
Henk knew concerning the ARP funds, and metropolis officers considered taking the cash, however determined towards it.
“To be sincere, now we have no want for it,” he mentioned.
They have been planning to construct a metropolis corridor, however these plans fell via, so that they had no undertaking for the funds, which can be utilized for every thing from increasing broadband service to upgrading water infrastructure.
In Solway, Trammell mentioned it might “take us 20 years to spend” $77,000.
Additionally, she added, “it simply looks like a ton of paperwork” and being metropolis clerk is only a aspect gig for her.
“I do have a job,” she mentioned.
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by Deena Winter, Minnesota Reformer
January 5, 2022
Solway, Minnesota, inhabitants 73, is so small it doesn’t have law enforcement officials, only a handful of elected officers.
There’s Metropolis Clerk Jennifer Trammell, her husband (a metropolis councilman) and different council members who receives a commission to satisfy month-to-month, primarily to keep up town.
“It’s a really small, easy metropolis,” Trammell mentioned. “We now have like three paved streets inside our metropolis.”
Solway leaders determined to not settle for cash that the federal authorities supplied to assist it deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There would’ve been no manner for us to make use of any of the cash,” Trammell mentioned.
Solway will not be alone. It’s certainly one of 506 small Minnesota cities and cities that opted to not take a bit of a virtually $20 billion federal stimulus pie put aside for small cities throughout America.
About all they’d have needed to do is say “sure” — no prolonged software, no aggressive bidding — however they mentioned no. Or extra precisely, they didn’t say sure.
They’re all small cities, with populations starting from 5 to 2,329 individuals, and their common cost would have been about $23,000, in keeping with Amy Jorgenson, director of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Response Accountability Workplace, which administers the federal funds. One other 2,100 Minnesota cities and cities did request the cash.
In 2020, about one-third of small U.S. cities acquired left behind by the $2.2 trillion financial stimulus CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump. So when Congress handed one other $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package deal final yr, the American Rescue Plan Act, it included cash for each metropolis, city and village nationwide, in the event that they wished it.
About $2 billion was put aside for cities and cities with fewer than 50,000 residents.
In Minnesota, practically $12 million was not claimed and was redistributed to different cities.
Some small cities (though none in Minnesota) even formally rejected the help. In 12 states with full information, 175 small communities rejected the funds, in keeping with the Nationwide League of Cities. These cities had a median inhabitants of 348, and the median quantity they might have gotten was about $77,000, in keeping with Martin Brown, program supervisor within the Heart for Metropolis Options on the Nationwide League of Cities.
“Fifty-thousand can get you possibly two streetlights,” Brown mentioned.
The deadline for smaller Minnesota cities to say sure to the largesse — $377 million in ARP funds — was Oct. 11. Half of the cash has been distributed thus far.
Though the cities didn’t have to use for the funds, Brown mentioned lots of them in all probability don’t have the employees to handle the cash. The funds can be utilized for administration, so the League inspired small cities to take a shot at it or companion with neighboring cities or counties on a undertaking.
“These locations are unbelievably small,” Brown mentioned. “Numerous these small cities and villages have by no means obtained federal funds.”
Like McGrath, Minnesota, with a inhabitants of 80, up from 70 in 1970. It’s a metropolis whose largest employer is town, with 5 workers — yet another employee than the 4 employed over at Pour Lewy’s Saloon, in keeping with town web site.
Or Bena, Minnesota, inhabitants 116, the place town corridor voicemail says if you happen to’re on the lookout for cemetery burial info, name John at one other quantity.
Or Watson, a metropolis in Chippewa County that calls itself the “Goose Capitol of the USA,” because of the giant variety of Canada geese that migrate via each fall. Name town clerk and also you get a voicemail that claims, “If this can be a water or sewer emergency, name Byron.”
Or Chickamaw Seaside, which is 30 miles north of Brainerd on the shores of Norway Lake. It has a inhabitants of 128 and is “rising quickly,” in keeping with Metropolis Clerk Edward Henk.
He’s certainly one of two full-time metropolis workers; the opposite is the city treasurer. The town council and mayor receives a commission by the assembly, however the metropolis has no companies, colleges, hearth division or police division.
“It’s mainly sustaining our neighborhood,” Henk mentioned. “It’s fairly quiet.”
Henk knew concerning the ARP funds, and metropolis officers considered taking the cash, however determined towards it.
“To be sincere, now we have no want for it,” he mentioned.
They have been planning to construct a metropolis corridor, however these plans fell via, so that they had no undertaking for the funds, which can be utilized for every thing from increasing broadband service to upgrading water infrastructure.
In Solway, Trammell mentioned it might “take us 20 years to spend” $77,000.
Additionally, she added, “it simply looks like a ton of paperwork” and being metropolis clerk is only a aspect gig for her.
“I do have a job,” she mentioned.
Minnesota Reformer is a part of States Newsroom, a community of stories bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: data@minnesotareformer.com. Comply with Minnesota Reformer on Fb and Twitter.
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Deena Winter has coated native and state authorities in 4 states over the previous three many years, with stints on the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Publish, metropolis corridor reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest Information within the western Minneapolis suburbs. Earlier than becoming a member of the employees of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Road Journal and the New York Instances. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and really grand youngster. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, backyard and try to take a look at all one of the best eating places within the metro space.
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