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Muskegon Heights expects close to $11M in recovery funds

Muskegon Heights Mayor Walter Watt forms 12-member committee to provide direction to city council on how to spend close to $11 million in pandemic relief funds.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The exact amount of American Rescue Plan Act money that will be sent to Muskegon Height for pandemic recover is still unknown. But Muskegon Heights leaders including Mayor Walter Watt believe it will be somewhere around $11 million.

"With all of the needs and the things that we need to do in this community to bring it back to the full glory of what it was $11 million is a drop in the bucket," Watt said Thursday. "But it's a start."

The funding could be used for a variety of projects around the city. Those could include public works projects that improve the community, investments into city parks and ongoing efforts to reduce crime.

"That's a priority and we're going to get there," said Watt. 

Watt commissioned a 12-member advisory committee to help advice the city council on how best to spend the new funds. By comparison the city's annual budget is around $8 million.

"This advisory committee was put together so that we can make sure we get it right. We have some brilliant minds on this committee," said Watt. "We're on the verge of a renaissance in Muskegon Heights." 

The commission is comprised of Muskegon Heights business owners, pastors and respected community leaders. The commission can only provide direction to the city council which has the final say on how the dollars will be spent.

Watt says some of the money will likely be spent in 2021 with the remaining funds targeting projects in 2022.

The city is waiting on final direction from the government on how the money can be spent.

"It gives us an opportunity to do some things we haven't been able to do in a very long time," said Watt. "A lot of good things are going in the city of Muskegon Heights."

Muskegon Heights residents also have an opportunity to play an advisory role in how the money will be spent by attending and participating in monthly city council meetings at city hall. 

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