City of Wauwatosa Receives Community Input Regarding the Spending of “American Rescue Plan Act” Funds


Claire Guttormson

The Wauwatosa City Crest on top of community feedback regarding how the American Rescue Plan Act funds should be spent.

Claire Guttormson, Writer

On Thursday December 2nd, the city of Wauwatosa held the last of it’s community input meetings regarding the funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

The recipient of 24 million dollars in ARPA funds, Wauwatosa opened the stage for citizens to present their ideas as to how the money should be spent (within the parameters outlined by the federal government) through the Community Engagement Plan. 

This final meeting was held in the Learning Center of Wauwatosa West High School and was attended by a few concerned citizens looking to address a multitude of issues including the effects the pandemic on the elderly population and school age children, Schoomaker Creek, the city’s lead piping, and how to best support struggling small businesses. 

One of the citizens in attendance was Mia Redmon, owner of the take-out food business Plate Pleasures Eatery.

“I opened my business in the middle of the pandemic. So that’s been a challenge for me. It’s been a challenge since day one pretty much,” said Redmon.

She wonders if the money could be used to wave certain license removal fees or pay for the new equipment that many businesses required in order to adapt during the pandemic.

“I’d like to see it spread out in a way where every area in need in Wauwatosa is addressed and the funds are applied in a way where it’s very noticeable, where we can see the change and see the impact of the funds,” said Redmon.

Many small businesses lost their customer base  during the pandemic due to those who did not feel comfortable being out and entering restaurants or stores. Redmon said that she hopes the money can be used in a way so that citizens feel safer and more willing to return to pre-pandemic activities, such as ordering food from a restaurant. 

Addressing the negative economic impact of the pandemic is just one way the ARPA funds can be allocated. Other ways include:

  • Supporting public health, including COVID-19 mitigation tactics and funding public health offices and programs
  • Replacing lost public sector revenue
  • Increasing pay and support for essential workers
  • Improving water or sewer infrastructure

The money is received in two parts. 12 million was distributed to the city earlier this year, the other 50% will be released in March, a year after the bill was signed. The city has until 2024 to allocate the total amount of funds received. So far 1.9%, or around $470,900 has been spent on public health needs. 

The Wauwatosa School District received 3 million dollars in COVID-19 response funds through the American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARPA ESSER). Superintendent Demond Means joined Mayor Denis McBride, Finance Director John Ruggini, and other officials and consultants at the meeting on Thursday. 

He explained how the focus of the school district resides on the children and on working with the city of Wauwatosa as they determine how best to use this money.

Students’ opinions will be collected in a time coinciding with the staffing plan, a process which takes place in January or February. 

The city of Wauwatosa is accepting public comment through December 10th on the platform where citizens can insert their ideas for the allocation of this money and an explanation of their thoughts.