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Memphis leaders outline where to spend nearly $100 million in America Rescue Plan Act funding

Final approval is still pending but major priorities include crime prevention, youth services and broadband expansion.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Tuesday, city of Memphis leaders outlined how they believe nearly $100 million should be spent in programs and services from the American Rescue Plan Act—or ARPA.

"So many of these things we could not do out of our normal budget," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

Thanks to ARPA—passed earlier this year in Washington—the city of Memphis can spend that money over the next three years.

Tuesday morning, Mayor Strickland and others outlined who should get what, including money to fight crime.

They proposed $12 million for public safety recruitment incentives, $6 million for public safety technology upgrades, nearly $5 million for the Group Violence Intervention Program and $530,000 to create a new Memphis Police felony assault unit. 

"Whether they are on interstates or in communities committing vandalism, sometimes the officers have so many reports that they can't put particular focus on those types of shootings," Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said.

There's also priority funding that city leaders hope will steer young people from a potential life of crime altogether.

That includes $9 million to add 50 Boys and Girls club sites, $5 million for youth summer and mentoring programs and nearly $4 million for youth employment and training programs.

"Our crime plan is comprehensive, it's not just 'hire more police officers', it's also mentoring with young people and giving them something to do and turning their lives around," Mayor Strickland said.

"The ARP dollars give us a chance to think and dream in ways that we hadn't," Memphis activist Tameka Greer added.

Greer appreciated some of the federal funding ideas but felt other services could've been prioritized on a similar level as crime prevention. 

"I would also like to think they'd be placing as much money into housing and community development area because Memphis is a city wrought with poverty," Greer said. 

The Memphis City Council will weigh in and possibly make adjustments to the federal funding proposal in two weeks.

Mayor Strickland is hopeful the council will approve the funding package by the fall.

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