Sojourner’s Truth Staff
“Toledo is receiving $180.9 million from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act and all Toledoans will be asked their thoughts on how that money should be spent under our local program – the Toledo Recovery Plan,” said Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz last week. “We have a great opportunity to make infrastructure improvements, including a lead line replacement program and we are eager to hear creative ideas from the public as we go through this process.”
In order to plot out the best ways to spend the American Rescue Plan funds – half of which was received in May 2021, the other half will come in May 2022 – the mayor and City Council have organized a task force that includes members of the administration and three city council members – Katie Moline, Vanice Williams and Sam Melden.
The Task force has scheduled six community meetings so that the public can weigh in with their suggestions of allocating the funds.
The money “must be spent,” noted the mayor during a press conference last week in front of One Government Center that he held with city council members and the city’s Safety Forces leaders. While the federal government has not yet issued complete guidelines about spending the funds, they have told local leaders that there are certain ways in which the funds cannot be used. The money cannot go into a “rainy day” fund or cannot be used to lower taxes, for example.
“We all have ideas on areas where this makes sense,” said Kapszukiewicz. “We need to know what the public thinks.”
The mayor’s thoughts were echoed by the city council members in attendance.
Moline observed that the task force had three primary responsibilities – to ensure accountability of the funds, to ensure city council has a voice in the process and to obtain community input.
“This is a once in a lifetime deal,” said Williams. “Community engagement is important for the process. I urge participation – we can really make an impact. I always say ‘don’t do anything for me, without me.’”
“This is another opportunity to use our voices to inform how we come together to forge a path for the common good,” added Melden.
So far, without knowing the exact guidelines coming from the federal government, the task force has focused on five areas of investment in the Toledo Recovery Plan: youth, recreation and parks; safe and livable neighborhoods; job creation and economic development; green and healthy housing; avoiding cuts to city services.
The public meetings will be held as follows:
- Thursday, July 22, 6 p.m. at Rogers High School
- Wednesday, August 4, noon, at this link: https://toledo-oh-gov.zoom.us/j/87095154054
- Tuesday, August 10, 6 p.m. at Whitmer High School
- Tuesday, August 17, 6 p.m. at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library – Main Branch
- Tuesday, August 24, 6 p.m. at Waite High School
- Tuesday, August 31, 6 p.m. at Scott High School
The survey and more information are posted at toledo.oh.gov/recovery and the public may also email ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org