City Councillors are looking to provide some extra money for first responders who were on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Monday night’s Ways and Means Subcommittee meeting, the City Council discussed a motion by Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri requesting Mayor Brian Arrigo to look into using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to provide each emergency responder with a $500 bonus. That motion was later amended to up the bonus to $1,000 per emergency responder.
“Included in the ARPA funds breakdown and regulations that Governor Baker put out, anyone that worked through COVID-19, including first responders, could get, I believe it is $13 per hour up to $25,000,” said Silvestri. “I think $500 to our first responders – although they might think it’s not enough – I think it is a little something to show the respect in the work that they have done.”
Ward 5 Councillor Al Fiore said he agreed with the motion wholeheartedly and asked to up the amount of the bonus. “Thirty-million dollars in ARPA funds – I think we can amend it to $1,000,” said Fiore. “They put their lives on the line while we were all locked down.”
City Finance Director Richard Viscay said the administration does have a process by which the request for ARPA funds is vetted and then recommended out and appropriated. “I’m not sure if any action would bind this vote to be given out,” said Viscay. “I want to make it clear: I think the motion has merit, but we have a process that has been sent out in regard to all of the requests for spending the ARPA funds, and I would just hope that we can respect that process.”
Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo, who chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee, said he understands the City Council cannot appropriate money, but agreed with the desire to provide bonuses for Revere’s first responders. “When you think back to the beginning of this pandemic, nobody knew – all our first responders – nobody knew what they were dealing with,” said Rizzo. “I know that out of a lot of the money that was given to the city as a result of the pandemic – there was a lot of outrage by some over some of the raises that were proposed using COVID money, and it was heavily contested. These are our first responders who are out there day in and day out not knowing what they are walking into; they didn’t take a day off when we didn’t know anything about this potential virus.”