The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to provide much needed funds to help states, counties, and local communities recover from the economic and health effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds were included in the plan to provide eligible state and local governments with a substantial infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild a stronger economy. These funds were provided to our county and intended to:
n Support public health expenditures to fight the pandemic
n Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency to workers, households, small businesses, and impacted industries
n Replace lost public sector revenue, to support local government services
n Provide premium pay for essential workers who face the greatest health risks
n Invest in clean water, safe wastewater and stormwater systems, and expanded broadband internet
This relief package received universal support from Democrats and universal opposition from Republicans, including Rep. John Molenaar, R-Midland.
On July 15, in a closed meeting, the Shiawassee County Republican commissioners voted to give themselves and other county administrators bonuses ($5,000 to $25,000) with the federal relief money. These commissioners appear to be the only local government in the country to spend part of their American Rescue Plan allocation to benefit themselves instead of the community. The ARPA clearly states that bonuses should be paid to essential workers who have borne the greatest health risk, and not to self-serving local government officials.
In addition, the actions of the commissioners violated Article 11, Section 3 of the Michigan constitution, which prohibits “any political subdivision” of Michigan from paying out extra compensation for public officers and contractors after services have already been rendered.
We urge the citizens of Shiawassee County — whether Democrats, Republicans or independents, to demand immediate resignations from former chairman, Jeremy Root, R-District 5, commissioner Cindy Garber, R-District 6, and County Coordinator Brian Boggs, and any other county officials who participated in this misuse of public funds, as county commissioners or as officials of county government.
Further, we call upon the Shiawassee County commissioners to hold public and transparent open meetings as they determine the equitable disbursement of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to benefit our communities.
The Shiawassee Democratic Party