Kalamazoo discussing how to spend $39M in pandemic relief


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Kalamazoo has begun making plans to spend the nearly $39 million in pandemic relief funding from the federal government. 

City commissioners discussed the money in a work session Monday night.

Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain says officials are working to determine the impact the pandemic has made on the community and the city’s finances.

“Real revenue loss to the city of Kalamazoo since last year through 2024 could be approximately $7.5 million,” Chamberlain said.

City Manager Jim Ritsema says much of the revenue drops are from people working remotely and not making the trip downtown.

“Between streets, parking and charges for services, we’re at about $6.5 million of the $7.4 (million),” Ritsema said.

The money can be used in six main areas with specific rules for each:

  • Support public health resources
  • Address economic impacts
  • Replace lost revenue
  • Provide premium pay for frontline essential workers
  • Make investments in water and sewer infrastructure
  • Provide improvements to broadband access in underserved communities. 

Commissioners Chis Praedel says the funding will provide a unique opportunity to make a major impact.

“This is a moment where we can truly make game-changing transformational change in the city of Kalamazoo,” Praedel said.

Kalamazoo does not have a city income tax, something that has resulted in tens of millions in revenue losses for cities like Grand Rapids. 

The Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit, provides funding from private donations that have helped Kalamazoo continue with programs and services.

The city has already received the first half of the money. The second half will come next year.

The commission has to identify how the money will be spent by December 31, 2024. The funding will have to be completely expended by December 31, 2026.

The city plans to conduct a survey to find out what the community feels is most needed to allocate the funds.

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