Disbursement of $20 million in COVID-19 relief funding to be discussed at Decatur City Council Study Session
DISBURSEMENT OF $20 MILLION IN COVID-19 RELIEF FUNDING TO BE DISCUSSED AT DECATUR CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
Disbursement of COVID-19 relief funding, and city finances in the first quarter of 2021, will be the subjects of a Decatur City Council study session on Monday, April 12 at 5:30 PM. The meeting will focus on two issues: 1) Whether first quarter revenues are as projected in the 2021 budget, and 2) disbursement of federal and state COVID-19 relief funding. Most notably, the city is expected to receive ~$17 million under the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act and has or will receive $3.14 million in CARES Act funding. In addition, the city council will discuss a possible increase in the monthly fee individuals pay for recycling.
CITY OF DECATUR TO RECEIVE ~$17 MILLION THROUGH AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT
The City of Decatur is likely to receive ~$17 million from the 2021 ARP Act. These funds can be used for direct COVID-19 pandemic costs, to cover revenue losses from COVID-19 economic impacts, as premium pay for employees that provided essential work during COVID-19 pandemic, and for infrastructure costs in the areas of water, sewer, and broadband. Given that the city has over $70 million in known water and sewer projects, this funding is much needed.
CITY OF DECATUR RECEIVED OR WILL RECEIVE $3.14 MILLION THROUGH CARES ACT
In 2020 and 2021, the City of Decatur has or will receive $3.14 million in CARES Act funding. The funding was used for direct pandemic-related expenses such as face coverings, COVID-19 testing costs, and improved online capabilities for remote work ($725,000), public safety overtime costs ($225,000), and regular public safety salary and benefits ($2,190,000). Because the $2.19 million was provided to reimburse public safety expenses already budgeted in 2020, the city council can make one-time expenditures not anticipated in 2020. Possibilities include funding the neighborhood revitalization initiative ($1.2 million), replenishing general fund reserves ($600,000), and other capital expenses ($600,000, e.g., cover the possible shortfall between the cost of a new Fire Station #7 and remaining proceeds from the fire station bond fund).
FIRST QUARTER REVENUES ARE IN LINE WITH PROJECTIONS, BUT THERE ARE AREAS OF CONCERN
In general, revenues are on track with first quarter projections, but there are areas of concern. The sectors that have been slow to recover are the areas that have and continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic including food & beverage taxes (particularly from dine-in restaurants, down 4% YTD through March 2021), video gambling taxes (down 48%), hotel/motel taxes (down 8%), and state & local sales taxes (down 4% and 3%, respectively). These categories, as well as state and local motor fuel taxes and utility taxes, are also likely to be slow to recover due to long-standing population decline (Furthermore, revenue from federal and state sources that are based on population data will decrease when Decatur’s official 2020 census number is finalized).
JOB LISTINGS IN THE DECATUR AREA INCREASE SUBSTANTIALLY IN FEBRUARY WHILE UNEMPLOYMENT REMAINS HIGH
As a measure of job availability, the City of Decatur’s Economic and Community Development Department records the number of job listings in the Decatur area as reported by Indeed.com. The number of jobs available increased from 1,004 listings in January to 1,520 listings in February (51% increase). There were more job listings in February 2021 than there were prior to the pandemic when there were 1,385 job listings in February 2020, a 10% increase in job listings year-over-year.
Unemployment rates have decreased since the start of the year, but continue to be higher than national and state averages. In January 2021, the unemployment rate was 11.6%, the number of individuals in the labor force was 30,326 and the number of unemployed individuals was 3,509. In February, the unemployment rate was 9.8%, the labor force was 29,693, and the number of unemployed was 2,915. The decrease in unemployment rate appears to be a result of individuals dropping out of the labor force.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss city issues with a council member, phone numbers and email addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
Meetings take place at the Theater located on the second floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings and express their views. Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, citizens can provide comments regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting). You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE
An agenda and information about each agenda item for each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.