The American Rescue Plan Act is a $1.9 trillion federal economic stimulus package passed in March 2021, to provide assistance to Americans and their communities hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA provided $350 billion to state and local governments to bolster local economies that suffered during the pandemic. Revere’s cut of ARPA funding was $30 million, and this week Councillor-at-Large Gerry Visconti asked Chief Financial Officer Richard Viscay to meet with him and other members of the City Council’s Ways and Means Committee to review how the city is spending that windfall.
“It’s not often the city is awarded $30 million. This is just to get some report on where we stand,” said Visconti, adding that originally there were initiatives and ideas for the money but the council should know how much has been spent and how much is left.
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto immediately jumped in with his support for the idea. “When we first talked about ARPA funding, we had a lot of input. I’m not sure how much of that input actually transpired into the wishes we presented. It sounded promising, but it would be good to see where this money actually went and what’s left,” said Zambuto.
Mayor Brian Arrigo spent some ARPA funding on a program that awarded $250 to all property owners of owner-occupied homes to help defray rising housing costs.
In 2022, Arrigo created the city’s first Office of Travel and Tourism – dubbed “Next Stop Revere: By Land, Sea, or T” – to make Revere a destination that could reap significant tourism dollars.
According to the press release in the city website, “Tourism is Massachusetts’ third largest industry and the next double-digit growth sector for Revere’s economy, which is why it’s a central investment priority in the American Rescue Plan Act,” said Director of Travel and Tourism, Charlie Giuffrida.
There are some guidelines on how ARPA funding should be spent, but there are also loopholes that give local officials some leeway on how to use the funding. Visconti is looking for some transparency on how Revere spent funding meant to provide economic relief for the city in the wake of COVID-19.