MPPS Policy Brief: Challenges for Michigan local governments with ARPA spending continue, particularly in project costs and procurement

June 2023

This policy brief presents Michigan local government leaders’ views on the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), including plans for spending the funds, problems the jurisdiction is facing, and expectations for benefits from the funding. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the spring 2023 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS)—  conducted between February 6 and April 17, 2023—and tracking comparisons to previous spring waves.

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Key findings

  •  In 2023, a majority of Michigan local governments statewide face problems with inflation and other cost challenges in their ARPA projects (63%), as well as problems with other procurement issues such as lack of available contractors and supply chain challenges (56%). Costs and procurement are the most commonly reported problems across all jurisdiction sizes but are particularly pronounced in Michigan’s larger jurisdictions.
  •  Local leaders from the state’s smaller jurisdictions —those with 5,000 residents or fewer—are the most likely to say that their governments have problems navigating state and federal bureaucracies for their ARPA funding, with half saying it is somewhat of a problem (32%) or a significant problem (18%). 
  • Local governments most commonly report using funds for particular types of capital improvements, with a majority statewide (53%) planning ARPA spending on facilities such as public buildings, public parks, etc. Roads and other transportation infrastructure (38%), water and sewer infrastructure (31%), and public safety (27%) are the next most common targets for ARPA spending, and these percentages are essentially unchanged from 2022. 
  • Only 15% of local governments statewide report engaging in regional or multi-jurisdictional collaboration on ARPA projects, down from 20% in 2022. Counties (21%) and jurisdictions with over 30,000 residents (30%) were the most likely types of governments to say they were engaged in such collaboration on ARPA projects this year.