Spectrum News: "City of Buffalo accused of misusing American Rescue Plan funds"

Date: July 25, 2023

Spectrum News Staff | July 25, 2023

The city of Buffalo is being accused of misusing American Rescue Plan funds by a local public advocacy group.

The Partnership for the Public Good sent a complaint to the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of the Inspector General on Monday asking for an investigation into the use of American Rescue Plan funding in Buffalo. Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat from Buffalo, and Sen. Chuck Schumer were copied in on that email.

The PPG accuses city officials and the mayor's office of having conversations about the use of the funds in non-formal settings, which violates federal procurement rules. The group also alleges the city is trying to use $60 million for revenue replacement.

In August 2021, Buffalo Common Council approved Mayor Byron Brown's spending plan for the $331 million Buffalo received in pandemic relief funds. The city developed a request for proposals to use the money in critical areas such as community food security, restorative justice and community safety.

Buffalo Director of Communications Michael DeGeorge released a statement on Monday saying the city "followed all federal guidelines regarding the ARP Funding Process."

The PPG says no American Rescue Plan awards have been made so far, despite applications being submitted eight months ago.

"Federal American Rescue Plan funding was intended to address Buffalo's most urgent needs and none of these when we look at our project funds have been alleviated since 2021," said Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, executive director for the PPG. "And they were told by city employees, 'Don't worry, you're receiving funds. We just can't tell you how much yet.' Others were told by city employees, 'you'll never receive this award because the mayor doesn't like you or your organization.'"

Read the article on Spectrum News' website, here.