Key Biscayne’s mayor says he’s eager to use one of the lesser-known features of the new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan — a pool of $350 billion set aside for cities and municipalities. Mayor Mike Davey says the funds can revive pandemic stricken local businesses and also be used for some resiliency projects. President Joe Biden signed the plan into law Thursday.
According to preliminary estimates by the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, Key Biscayne would be eligible for about $5.4 million. The numbers are still tentative and subject to change, officials said.
“I’m excited. There are opportunities for us,” said Davey, who added that he is especially interested in provisions that will allow additional help for local businesses. The Mayor said he is reaching out to the local business community to map out plans.
“We’re going to jump on it,” said Tatyana Chiocchetti, the executive director of the Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce. She said the Chamber’s experience from a previous round of aid under the CARES Act went smoothly, with 42 local businesses getting grants out of 85 applications. The Chamber helped administer the $180,000 program for the Village.
“There is a tremendous need for it,” she said, stressing that the island’s retail sector took the hardest hit because of decreased tourist traffic.
On the resiliency side, the legislation allows local governments to spend money on “necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.”
Critics of the law said it was overreach. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the $350 billion a “bailout for state and local budgets unrelated to pandemic needs, with strings attached to stop states from cutting taxes.”
Key Biscayne’s representative in Congress, María Elvira Salazar, tweeted out a picture of herself holding a piñata describing the bill as being for “ultra liberal states.” Salazar joined her fellow Republicans in voting against the measure.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.