Spending $34 million in federal funding to be discussed at next Decatur City Council meeting
The city of Decatur will receive $33.8 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding over the next two years. At its meeting on June 21, 2021 at 5:30 PM, the city council will discuss how to spend this funding. ARP funds are to be used to meet COVID-19 pandemic response needs and to rebuild an economy that is stronger and more equitable. In general, the funding can be used to: 1) support public health expenditures, 2) address negative impacts caused by the public health emergency, 3) replace lost public sector revenue, 4) provide premium pay for essential workers, and 5) invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. For cities such as Decatur that have at least one Qualified Census Tract, funds can also be used for addressing health disparities and the social determinants of health, investments in housing and neighborhoods, addressing educational disparities, and promoting healthy childhood environments.
KEY FACTORS IN DECIDING HOW TO SPEND FUNDS
In addition to citizen feedback, below are some key factors that will shape my views on how to spend the funds.
1) Decatur and Macon County have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Macon County had the highest per capita case rate and death rate thru 2020 of any county in central Illinois with a mid-size city. The county also has a low vaccination rate (37,319 of 104,712 residents have been fully vaccinated [35.6%] as of June 18, 2021 compared to the state rate of 46.3%).
2) Decatur has long-standing challenges that were laid bare by the pandemic and must be addressed including population decline (7.1% since 2010), low median household income ($42,701), high unemployment (9.7% in April 2021), and significant racial disparities in areas such as income, unemployment, and homeownership.
3) In the short-term, the city has an immediate need to provide any and all resources necessary to assist first responders to better protect public safety and health. YTD thru May 2021, shootings are up 33% compared to Jan. - May 2020 (61 vs. 46) and 2020 had a 104% increase in shootings compared to 2019. Furthermore, the number of alarms firefighters have responded to YTD thru May 2021 is up 13% compared to 2020 (4,835 vs. 4,284).
4) In the long-term, it is investment in programs overseen by the Community and Economic Development Department that will resolve Decatur’s long-standing challenges and disproportionate impacts of the pandemic. Currently, solutions to many of these challenges lack a funding source, and thus, ARP funds would be particularly impactful.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION ARE VITAL TO BUILDING A STRONGER AND MORE EQUITABLE ECONOMY
In the immediate-term, ARP funds should be used to support projects such as enhanced community violence intervention programs and technological initiatives that increase citizen engagement and provide real-time data for decision making. In the long-term, neighborhood revitalization initiatives should receive substantial funding in order to serve the communities and families hardest hit prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 Council Chambers located on the third 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/.