YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council and the administration of Mayor Tito Brown are working together to find a way to properly spend the $2 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) money allocated to each seven council members. A meeting was held earlier on Wednesday to clarify what’s needed.

At Wednesday evening’s meeting of Youngstown City Council, the proper way for each member to spend its $2 million in ARP money was not discussed. But, it was discussed earlier in the day at a meeting of Mayor Brown’s ARP committee, of which council members Mike Ray (4th Ward) and Anita Davis (6th Ward) are members.

“I think the message coming out of there from the mayor’s chief of staff was communication. We all have to be communicating, and the departments have to be part of that process to make sure we can spend the money correctly,” Ray said.

Council agreed to spend $200,000 of ARP money to redevelop the Mahoning Avenue corridor. It previously passed an ordinance for sidewalk work along Glenwood Avenue, but they also must be approved by Youngstown’s board of control. It consists of Mayor Brown, who was not at Wednesday evening’s meeting, along with law director Jeff Limbian and finance director Kyle Miasek.

The only ARP project approved by both council and the board of control was the purchase of the former McDonald’s on Market Street for a police substation. Everything else is on hold.

“Some of the discussion of today clarified that it wasn’t a matter of stonewalling. It was just that more information was needed and sometimes we needed to fine-tune some things,” Davis said.

Reporter Stan Boney: “So it might not be as simple as council passing it and the board of control rubber stamping it? They’ll be some work that takes in between there.”
Ray: “Absolutely, because compliance has to happen and they want to make sure that the money’s spent correctly so there’s no clawback or anything like that.”
Boney: “So you understand both sides of that?”
Ray: “Yeah, I do, and I think we’re making progress and I think once we get it all ironed out it’ll start moving a lot quicker.”

Mayor Brown said council needs to work with himself and the city’s department heads to spend their ARP money, and their requests need to be properly prepared with documentation and invoices.

Youngstown City Council also approved an extra $150,000 for the law department to operate through year’s end and $800,000 for a construction manager to handle the 20 Federal Place redevelopment project.

Council also set trick or treating for Oct. 31 from 5-7 p.m.