Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller is soliciting residents’ input on how the city should distribute about $63 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Fuller said her goal is to invest the one-time federal funds to seed initiatives that will help Newton residents and the city stabilize and recover from the pandemic, and permanently become “more resilient, more livable, more vibrant, more inclusive, and more sustainable,” according to a statement.
“We will invest the funds using the lens of equity, ensuring all geographic areas of Newton, all ages, all ethnicities, and all people are supported while we help those hurt by the pandemic,” Fuller said.
The city will hold an online meeting on Thursday, July 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. for residents to weigh in on how Newton should use the money. Fuller also has invited city councilors to virtual sessions to discuss how to use the funds.
Residents also can share their feedback by contacting the city at ARPAinput@newtonma.gov.
Fuller said the city’s use of the relief funds will be strategic and complement state and federal programs.
Fuller makes the decision on allocating the city’s share of the relief funds, according to her statement. Fuller has said the money allocated to Newton must be used by December 2024.
“We will continue to be transparent and open about the sources and uses of federal and state funds,” she said.
Fuller has already announced some spending of those federal funds.
In May, Fuller said she would allocate some of the federal money to help support the city’s paving budget, and to offset lower-than-usual receipts from hotel and meals taxes.
She has said she is considering other investments, including more ways to support the mental health of residents through partnerships, education, and services; improving the training and facilities of Newton police; and more work on city infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, and athletic fields.
Fuller also said in May she would also launch a “targeted community needs assessment” that focused on the city’s most financially vulnerable residents to design effective support programs.
Newton’s public schools received a separate $3.2 million in relief money. Use of those funds will be overseen by the School Committee, which includes Fuller as a member.
According to the city, about one-fifth of that education money must be used to support students who have not made satisfactory progress over the past year. The funds also can be used for other purposes, such as sanitation and personal protective equipment, facility repairs, technology for online learning, and student mental health services.
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.