The El Paso City Council voted unanimously to accept a recommendation to reallocate $15 million in federal funding for the city’s COVID-19 response to street maintenance and public safety projects.
More than $9 million will go toward delayed street projects like resurfacing residential streets and restriping roads.
The rest of the funding will be allocated toward purchasing radios for first responders, vehicles for road maintenance, energy efficiency improvements and bridge projects.
Woah. I don’t think that’s legal.
The requirement that expenditures be incurred “due to” the public health emergency means that expenditures must be used for actions taken to respond to the public health emergency. These may include expenditures incurred to allow the State, territorial, local, or Tribal government to respond directly to the emergency, such as by addressing medical or public health needs, as well as expenditures incurred to respond to second-order effects of the emergency, such as by providing economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to COVID-19-related business closures.
Yeah, I don’t think you can justify spending that money on streets, unless they’re medical emergency routes, and even that’s shaky.
Remember, this is the same City Government that spent $13.1 million on “COVID testing and vaccination sites” while hundreds of small businesses were going bankrupt last November. Those buildings were eventually used for to take appointments for vaccinations, but I don’t think they were ever used for testing or vaccinations per se.
This is part of a longstanding pattern of the City using ethically dubious reasoning for questionable means. Remember when the City was going to use a Public Improvement District to build that Eastside Sports Complex, till some blogger pointed out that it was illegal?
Remember the City shoehorning Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones into every vacant lot our benevolent overlords want to develop?
I reckon there might be someone in City Government who wants to follow the law, but I don’t imagine that it’s the City Attorney. But that’s why she makes the big bucks.