HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Communities across the Midstate have millions of dollars of COVID-19 relief money waiting to be spent. On Tuesday, the Harrisburg City Council met to try and divvy up all the cash they have available and scheduled a vote on a proposal for the remaining money.

This is something Mayor Wanda Williams has been calling for for several months. There are $31 million left from the money Harrisburg received from the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, and she says the city needs the money now.

“The time for action is now. Wake up City Council,” she said.

Mayor Williams made another push Tuesday.

“At this point, I don’t want to debate back and forth, I just want them to approve the ARPA funding,” she said.

The City Council took one step closer to that at a June 6 work session.

“I’m just happy that they finally set a date to approve it,” Mayor Williams said.

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In May 2022, Mayor Williams put a proposal before the council that suggested how to spend nearly $43 million of the ARPA money. The city council voted almost immediately to spend $15.6 million of the money on public safety initiatives, but the mayor says there’s been no movement since.

“They had that information 13 months ago,” she said.

Earlier this year, the city council listened to what people in Harrisburg wanted them to do with the money, and the bill that was the topic of Tuesday’s meeting matches the mayor’s initial proposal almost exactly.

However, City Council President Danielle Bowers said the mayor’s initial proposal was not detailed enough, describing it as “lackluster.” She said it was not until March of 2023 that the council received more information and the bill to vote on.

“Including a PowerPoint, with pictures and clear images of what the proposal could look like,” Bowers described.

The bill includes money for projects like affordable housing, small business assistance, and a water park.

Members of the mayor’s administration appeared before council at a work session Tuesday, but Bowers said they still did not have all the answers.

“They should have had ample time to answer any question that was asked of them,” she said.

Mayor Williams said she has repeatedly asked council members what answers they needed and made herself available to talk about that.

“No one has offered to come meet with me,” she said.

Bowers said until the council got the bill in March, there was nothing to discuss. Once they got that more detailed version, they could start asking questions.

“With a fuller, more detailed plan, I think now we can have a conversation,” Bowers said.

The council will be voting on the proposal for the remaining ARPA funding at their legislative session on June 27. The city has to find a use for that money by the end of 2024 and council members say they are confident they will meet that deadline.

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