North metro cities gain flexibility in new federal relief package

American Rescue Plan Act provides Adams County with more money, time to spend it


A few weeks after President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Act, north metro cities are getting a clearer sense of how much COVID-19 relief funding they will receive from the federal government.

Not only will cities and Adams County receive more money than they did from last year’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act, but they will have more time to spend it. It also seems they can put the money towards new purposes, all the while focused on pandemic-related assistance and recovery.

On March 29, the National League of Cities released estimates of how much money each city will receive. In the north metro area, the amounts for each city are:

Brighton: $8.9 million

Commerce City: $10.4 million

Northglenn: $8.3 million

Thornton: $19.5 million

Westminster: $15.7 million

Fort Lupton: $1.7 million

Adams County is expected to receive about $100 million, said spokeswoman Christa Brunig.

For all of the cities, the money they will receive is a significant jump from last year’s CARES money, though CARES was different in scope and size from the American Rescue Plan Act. The initial allocation in CARES money to the cities from Adams County last May was $3.1 million for Brighton, $4.6 million for Commerce City, $3 million for Northglenn, $5.5 million for Westminster and $11.2 million. Weld County also gave Brighton money, as did Jefferson County to Westminster.

With the new money, Adams County and the cities haven’t fully figured out how to spend it, which they have until December 31, 2024, to do so.

Brighton has some ideas, described spokeswoman Linda Ong.

“We know that Brighton residents will benefit tremendously from the American Rescue Plan Act. Some examples include rent and mortgage assistance, extended unemployment benefits, small business assistance funding and child tax credit money to help pull families out of poverty,” Ong said.

Robb Kolstad, assistant city manager for Thornton, told Thornton City Council at a March 16 study session that there is more flexibility with spending than there was with CARES, such as broadband and infrastructure-related expenses. Kolstad didn’t specifically say, though, how Thornton intends to use the money.

Westminster spokesman Ryan Hegreness said Westminster City Council will discuss spending priorities at a strategic plan retreat in April. Northglenn also has not determined its process yet, but city spokeswoman Diana Wilson said the city sought public input last time.

According to the NLC, local governments will receive the funds in two allotments: half within 60 days of the American Rescue Plan Act’s passage (March 12) and the second half a year after the first payment.


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