WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s a staggering sum, but it’s not yet official.
“On the general government side, not counting education, the talk is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million dollars,” said Mayor Neil O’Leary. “It seems almost unbelievable honestly.”
That’s how much cash Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary tells News 8 The Brass City could gain if The U.S. Senate passes President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. News 8 asking the mayor what that money could mean for Waterbury.
He immediately started talking about improving the city’s aging infrastructure — pointing to a rusted, corroded 100-year-old pipe valve sitting in his office. It’s part of the system of aging pipes that runs under city streets carrying water throughout the city.
Some of those pipes have burst, creating large water main breaks that damage city roads and have discolored water in people’s homes.
“It’s in dire need of repair,” the mayor said. “It’s the same way in almost every city throughout the northeast. Over time, we’d be able to use some of the American Rescue Plan money to clean out all those pipes, too, so we could improve our water flow.”
The mayor also told News 8 he’d use the funds to clean up Waterbury’s brownfields and replace them with economic development projects. The city lost 22 small businesses during the pandemic.
Waterbury State Representative Geraldo Reyes says there’s funding in the ARP designated to go to small businesses like family-owned restaurants that haven’t received federal funding thus far.
If the president’s plan passes the US Senate, on May 11, the Treasury Department will tell city and town leaders all over Connecticut specifically how many dollars they could receive and what that money could — and could not — be used for.
“There are two things we’ve been told you cannot use the money for — one of which is to lower the mill rate and the other is to put towards any pension fund applications,” said Mayor O’Leary.