Watertown city officials mull how to spend COVID relief funds

Watertown's federal aid plan

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown city council is carving out where federal COVID relief funds will go.

It’s nearly $23 million from the American Rescue Plan passed in March.

It will come in two parts: the first in May, the second in 2022.

City officials say there is some guidance for the money. It can be used on water and sewer projects.

In a work session Monday night, council members devoted $3 million to those works.

Mayor Jeff Smith also says the federal money could possibly go to capital projects, such as a trail from Sewall’s Island to Marble Street Park and improvements at the zoo.

“Transformative projects for the city,” he said. “Those low-hanging fruit every year that get kicked out of the capital budget and saying, ‘we’d love to do this, we want to do this when we get the extra money, we’ll get that done.’ Here’s that opportunity.”

Federal guidance also allows Watertown to use the money to make up lost revenue due to the pandemic. Right now, that’s expected to be between $1 million $2 million.

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