Local leaders begin talks about how to spend millions in COVID relief dollars


BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) – Elected leaders in Bloomington and Normal are starting to discuss how the local governments will spend many millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief from the American Rescue Plan.

Bloomington’s share is almost $13.4 million, which city staffers said is lower than the original estimate of almost $14 million because the Twin-Cities’ jobless rate is not as high as other communities.

Normal’s share is almost $10.9 million.

Both councils held their first public discussions Monday evening about what to do with the money.

Bloomington Alderwoman Julie Emig wants city leaders to learn from various social service agencies about community needs.

“Some of us have discussed using perhaps a piece of those funds to offset the utilities’ costs. The other issue that I’ve been hearing about recently a lot is real concern about child care as family are trying to get back to work,” said Emig.

She also suggested some of the money can be used to help reduce housing insecurity.

Alderwoman Sheila Montney said federal dollars aren’t exactly a windfall because the city is seeing depleted revenue from various sources, including the gas tax. So, Montney said the focus should be on maintaining infrastructure.

“There’s a lot of passion around our roads,” said Montney.

“Work from home is going to continue to be a prominent option for many of your employers here in town, so that’s one category where that shortfall already exists,” Montney added.

Local governments expect to receive half of the COVID relief money this month, with the other half coming a year from now.

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