Federal stimulus funding ‘is very much needed’ Portland leader says

PORTLAND – Even as she moves about overseeing the day-to-day operations of town government, First Selectwoman Susan S. Bransfield is keeping one eye focused on Washington.

Hers is not idle curiosity, of course.

Specifically, she is tracking the fate of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package – the America Rescue Plan Act, H.R. 1319 — approved Saturday by Democrats in a straight-line party vote.

The proposed legislation includes $350 billion in aid to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and another $130 billion in funding for schools, in addition to $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of Americans.

U. S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1 has told Bransfield that Portland could receive as much $914,958 in funds for general government and another $989,000 for schools if and when the bill passes. The town also could receive more aid from the county and December school allotments.

It is, Bransfield said Monday, money the town – and more importantly its residents – needs after a year of pushing back against the coronavirus.

“We’re certainly looking at that money, but we can’t have it until and unless everything has passed,” Bransfield said.

Bransfield said the federal funds would help relieve some the tax burden.

“As a town, we have to be responsible for the health and well-being of our residents, both physically and financially,” she said.

The act has now been referred back to the House of Representatives, which will have to vote to approve the Senate version of the bill in order for the relief act to past.

“I’m very interested” in the outcome of the vote, Bransfield said.

The Connecticut Council of Municipalities – is scheduled to hold a webinar Tuesday morning on the federal relief package, Bransfield said.

“It’s money that is very much needed,” she said, both to help fund capital improvement projects but also to respond to “needs that came about as a result of COVID-19.”

Bransfield is scheduled to meet later this week with members of the town’s Long-Range Planning Committee to discuss the town’s need going forward.

In the meantime, she said she is thankful to Larson for “keeping me in the loop.”

“He’s always there when I need him,” she said, adding that Larson has said he wants to visit the cities and towns in his district to discuss with municipal leaders how they intend to use the stimulus relief funds.

She also intends to meet with the town’s elected representatives in Hartford.