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Photo: Monowi City Population Sign: 1

Some Small Communities Pass on the American Rescue Plan

By Parker Allison

CHATTANOOGA, TN ( – Small towns across the country are rejecting the Biden Administration’s latest batch of coronavirus relief funds that would help cover community improvements and assist in pandemic related dues. 

Small, rural governments from Monowi, Nebraska with a population of 1, to DeWitt County, Texas, with a population about 20,000, have rejected the funds citing that they “didn’t want to be stuck as a township with any kind of strings attached or mandates,” said township Supervisor Kevin Green for Algoma, Michigan. 

Town of Monowi Population Sign. Population reads: 1

The grand total of non-accepting governments has totaled 1,468, who have effectively declined $73 million in federal aid according to an Associated Press analysis. 

Some small towns, like the city of West Alton, Missouri have declined amounts more than almost half of the city’s budget. Many city council meetings all have the same thing in common: there’s not much discussion about accepting the funds. 

“The conversation probably lasted 15 seconds. Without having really any need for it, it wasn’t something we felt like we wanted to get in the middle of,” West Alton Mayor Willie Richter said.

Mayor Willie Richter poses for a photo inside city hall Friday, May 27, 2022, in West Alton, Mo.

Since the governments that rejected the funds only make up a small percentage of the demographic, the U.S. Treasury Department counted the response to the American Rescue Plan as a win, which was the first-time money had been distributed to a batch of governments at this volume.  

The American Rescue Plan “was born out of an understanding that the economic effect of the crisis was being felt by jurisdictions of all sizes,” said Jacob Leibenluft, the Treasury’s chief recovery officer. “The vast, vast, vast majority of recipients saw a need to use these funds.”

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