Rock Island hires consultant to decide how to spend ARPA funds


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City hopes to hire someone next month to assess how to spend the funding

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – The city of Rock Island is tasked with deciding how best to spend more than $ 26 million in COVID relief funds. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act proposed by President Joe Biden to help cities and counties recover from the pandemic.

This is the kind of problem you would like to have. Mayor Mike Thoms says these funds are essential. “This is what we need to assess so that we can examine the needs so that we don’t just fix the past, but build for the future. ”

The mayor says funds are essential to rebuilding things in the city after a year of COVID lifestyles draining businesses, nonprofits and city funds. “It would be very devastating for years to come if we didn’t have these funds.”

The city is preparing to hire a consultant to determine the best way to spend the money. Thoms says they hope to have someone hired next month. After that, they hope the consultant can provide a plan to city council on how to spend the money over the next few months.

There are some things that the funding can be spent on. This includes things like nonprofits, coronavirus mitigation efforts, replacing lost tax revenue, and some infrastructure projects like water and sewage.

While Mayor Thoms says he’s not sure exactly what the funds will be used for, he says he thinks he has a good idea. “I think a lot of this is going to pay back the lost revenue to the city and then if you want to help the nonprofits in general, and there are a lot of them, but I see a part going for the city. . “

Paying back city revenues allows the city to free up other funds for things like repairing potholes. It’s a way to write off their debts to use that money on projects not authorized under ARPA funding, like repairing roads and potholes. “If you use the money directly from ARPA funds, you can’t use it to build streets, so if we can do our general fund, pay us back the lost income, that gives us more flexibility.”

Thoms says he also sees a decent amount going to nonprofits. He estimates that around 20% of the funds will help nonprofits in one way or another, with other funds being used for sewer repair projects. “I always come back to the water and the sewers because they talk about it. Underground water and sewer lines last 30 or 40 years and so in theory it’s a pretty good investment and it’s a big investment that most of the time we don’t have the money to make these. repairs and so it gives us a chance to catch up.

The mayor says he can also see cities in the region working together to spend their money on areas like tourism, another area where ARPA funding is allowed. One idea he put forward was the idea of ​​making sure that a place like the Tax Slayer Center is strong enough to continue to attract people and events to the area.

In addition to this, the mayor wants to reflect with other cities on the best way to distribute the funds. Just across the river, Davenport has received almost $ 41 million in ARPA funding. Mayor Thoms said: “We’re going to sit down and say how you do this, what process do you follow, what percentages do you plan to use for nonprofits or businesses or whatever. and share that among us and work together. It is even possible to do projects together. Tourism is one of them. “

More importantly, the city is asking the public for help. Mayor Mike Thoms said, “We just ask people to have patience. We’re going to get there but also encourage people to get involved and if we send out surveys, respond. We want the opinion of the citizens.

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