By Michael Zogg
Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema are looking for answers from the Biden Administration about why seven Arizona cities’ and towns’ allocations of American Rescue Plan Act money – including Lake Havasu City’s – are significantly lower than originally expected.
Recently Havasu, Kingman, Prescott Valley, Queen Creek, Buckeye, Goodyear and the City of Maricopa learned that their local allocations from ARPA will actually be about 23% to 60% lower than Congressional estimates projected when the act was passed and signed into law. Lake Havasu City’s new expected allocation is $8,528,306 – about $4.8 million less than the $13.3 million initially estimated by the federal government. Mayor Cal Sheehy said Havasu still has not received any relief money yet.
The change in allocation stems from all seven cities being unexpectedly classified as “Metropolitan Cities” by the U.S. Treasury which caused the relief money to come from a more competitive pool. Havasu and the other cities have not previously been classified as metropolitan cities for covid-related purposes because they do not receive their Community Development Block Grant funds directly from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
On Tuesday the mayors from all seven cities sent a letter to Arizona’s Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Mark Kelly asking for their assistance in rectifying what the letter called a “gross miscategorization.”
Later on Tuesday, after receiving the letter from the mayors, the Arizona Senators sent a letter of their own to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge seeking answers and clarification about why each of the seven cities and towns in Arizona were classified the way that they were. Representatives from Sinema’s and Kelly’s offices told Today’s News-Herald that the senators have been working together on this issue for some time.
“We are grateful that the Senators took to heart what we were asking, and that they immediately reached out to the Biden Administration to get the answers for our communities and obviously for our citizens,” Sheehy said. “It seems that the Senators agree with us and they too would like some clarification and clarity on the direction. So we are hopeful that a resolution will be made that will be beneficial to our citizens.”
The letter from Sinema and Kelly specifically names Lake Havasu City and the other six cities and towns in Arizona that saw their expected allocations decrease. They request a briefing from Treasury and HUD to address four specific questions: whether the lower allocation is due to the change in classification, how the classifications were determined, if the communities’ change in classification was a result of the actions of those communities, and whether or not the new expected allocations for those communities are accurate.
“That will answer what the discrepancy is from the original estimates that they provided to us, versus what it looks like it might end up being based on the new guidance,” Sheehy said.