Stamford has millions in federal COVID stimulus money to use. But Finance, Planning Boards want next mayor to weigh in.

STAMFORD — When the Planning Board and Board of Finance met this week to decide how the city should spend millions of dollars in federal aid, the big changes that lay ahead sobered talks of the funding decisions before the two boards.

During the almost-three-hour meeting, the two boards parsed through 19 projects that the current Mayor David Martin’s administration wants to finance through federal COVID-19 stimulus money and disaster relief money obtained after Tropical Storm Ida.

And even though the two entities moved to make substantial repairs across city schools and roads, the Board of Finance ultimately voted down more comprehensive reforms and updates in favor of waiting for more detailed plans from future administrations and the school district.

To date, Stamford has received $24.5 million from the COVID-19-related American Rescue Plan, $1.6 million of which is still unallocated. The city expects to receive another $24.5 million next spring, which it must spend by the end of 2026.

Martin pitched about $18.2 million worth of HVAC and stormwater-related projects to the two boards, leaving more than $7 million unallocated for the next administration to dole out. On top of that, Martin pitched for $4.95 million worth of FEMA money to manage the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which resulted in infrastructural devastation across Stamford.

Both boards fully backed financing the slew of roadway-related projects with FEMA money even though the city expects the agency to pay for 75 percent of the projects. The litany of improvements includes drainage repairs on at least 13 roads and parks, a road reconstruction project on Farms Road, renovations to a dilapidated culvert in Springdale and updates to two water pump stations.

While final approvals for the FEMA projects will move on to the Board of Representative’s Fiscal Committee on Nov. 1, the future of COVID-19 stimulus funding created more friction among the Board of Finance, especially in regard to more multi-site line items, what with a pending November mayoral election.

“Things are going to change Dec. 1, and there may be other priorities,” Board of Finance member Mary Lou Rinaldi said in response to a bid to automate heating and cooling systems across Stamford schools.