by ELISSA SALAMY, The National Desk
WASHINGTON (TND) — Lenawee County in Michigan is using COVID relief funds to build a sporting complex, according to watchdog group Open the Books.
“The total project on the table approved by county commissioners is $80 million,” said Open The Books’ Adam Andrzejewski to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “Now, because citizens brought the heat and politicians might be seeing the light, not all of that is going to be COVID funds.”
According to Andrzejewski, Lenawee County received $20 million from the American Rescue Act.
“This project was not even on the drawing board but for COVID aid from Washington, D.C.,” said Andrzejewski.
Local leaders hope the complex, dubbed "Project Phoenix," will generate revenue and create jobs. But Andrzjejewski says there are issues beyond just the use of COVID-19 funds.
“There are issues all the way around the board, including the county funds and a piece of that $20 million,” said Andrzejewski. “It's not centrally located in the county. The revenues of this project, to be profitable, are going to have to depend on tenants and there are no tenants lined up for this yet. And county residents weren't demanding a sports complex so there's a real question as to whether there was even a need.”
“How did this make it to the top of the county's priority list?" said resident Kevon Martis to The Center Square. “The cost is twice the annual budget for the county government."