Relief bill includes nearly $420 million for Mecklenburg’s governments

Relief bill includes nearly $420 million for Mecklenburg’s governments

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles with NC Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer, during a press conference about state response to COVID-19 at Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center on March 11, 2020. Photo: Andy McMillan/Axios

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This story was last updated at 12:30pm on Thursday, March 11, to include quotes from state and local officials.

North Carolina is in line to receive $9 billion from the massive COVID-19 relief package Congress sent to President Biden’s desk yesterday.

  • Mecklenburg County and its municipalities, including Charlotte, will see a one-time infusion of nearly $420 million.
  • The City of Charlotte alone will haul in nearly $150 million, by far the most of any city or town in the Carolinas.

Why it matters: While much of the attention around the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is on the $1,400 direct-aid checks being sent to individuals making $75,000 or less, or the expansion of child tax credits, state and local governments will receive plenty of juice for their economies, too.

  • They’ll be directed to spend it generally on economic recovery from COVID-19, but what exactly that means in each locality remains to be seen.

By the numbers: Of the $9 billion overall, about $5.3 billion will be distributed by the state — which is sure to get interesting with Democratic Gov. Cooper and the Republican-led legislature.

Much of the nearly $4 billion remaining will go to localities. In our county, it breaks down like this:

  • Mecklenburg County: $215.35 million
  • City of Charlotte: $148.94 million
  • Huntersville: $17 million
  • Matthews: $9.7 million
  • Cornelius: $8.85 million
  • Mint Hill: $8.08 million
  • Stallings: $4.72 million
  • Davidson: $3.82 million
  • Pineville: $2.64 million

For comparison’s sake, the town of Davidson’s overall operating budget is about $12 million. This is one-time spending, though, not something they can count on in future years.

State and local governments have until Dec. 31, 2024 to spend the money. They’ll receive half within 60 days of Biden’s signing, and the other half after a year passes.

The city will likely focus on the same priority areas it had in distributing CARES Act money last year — including housing and homelessness, closing the digital divide, and small businesses — council member Braxton Winston and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles both told Axios Charlotte.

What she’s saying: “It gives me hope that we’ll be able to bring back some people who’ve suffered in the last year with unemployment or intermittent employment,” Lyles said of the stimulus.

“We’ll continue to evaluate the things we’ve been doing around small businesses, keeping people housed, and keeping them with their utility bills.”

Worth noting: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are set to pull in $347 million of their own from the bill — independent of the government windfall — Congresswoman Alma Adams’ office says.

State of play: North Carolina was already on pace to come out of the pandemic with $4.1 billion more in state revenue than predicted.

  • That fact has sparked lots of debate. Sen. Thom Tillis voted against the package because he said it was too big, and that states and localities didn’t need that much.

How it works: The money from the American Rescue Plan, as it’s called, is being dispensed to states based on how many number of unemployed people they had at the end of 2020, Axios’ Glen Johnson reports.

  • N.C. had 310,675 unemployed people at that time, according to the state department of commerce. That was an increase of 124,552 from the same time last year.

Dory MacMillan, press secretary for Governor Cooper, said the rescue plan offers “needed help” to communities, businesses and individuals who are struggling the most.

  • “We must ensure that this recovery includes all North Carolinians, not just those at the top, and this relief package will help make that a reality,” MacMillan told Axios Charlotte.

Of note: The rescue plan had bipartisan support in the general public, polling shows.

Towns and counties just outside of Mecklenburg will also see a boost. Gastonia and Concord will each receive more than $16 million.

  • The 11 county governments in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area are set to receive about $511 million in all, with millions more for their municipalities.

What’s next: Biden is expected to sign the bill on Friday.

Go deeper: Here’s a spreadsheet with all of the state and local allocations around the country.

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