Letter: Sikeston to receive American Rescue Plan funds
On May 15, 2021, the City of Sikeston will receive half of the approximately $3 million allocated to it by the American Rescue Plan. This is the Plan of the Biden Administration to reimburse citizens, small businesses, cities, counties and states who suffered economic loss due to the pandemic. The second half of Sikeston’s portion of this money is to come May 15 of next year.
In the regulations stipulated by the Rescue Plan, there are only certain expenditures which are allowable. These expenditures can include large bonuses to public workers, provision of services to the citizens of the town which were not provided due to the pandemic, improvement of water, sewer or broadband infrastructure, AND/OR assistance to those who lost their jobs or homes and assistance to small businesses that suffered economically due to COVID-19 shutdowns or restrictions.
In the first paragraph of the American Rescue Plan, the intent of the plan is clearly given. It states…
“The American Rescue Plan provides … aid to … governments to address costs and lost revenue related to the pandemic.”
Each state, county and city in Missouri is to receive similar allocations of funds, the amount to depend on the respective population.
Information on the amount your state, county and city is to receive can be found by searching — Missouri Budget Project American Rescue Plan.
(My take on this) A) There were probably no public workers in Sikeston who lost revenue due to the pandemic. B) There were probably no services to Sikeston’s citizens which were halted or lessened in scope due to the pandemic. C) Using the money given to Sikeston in order to improve water, sewer or broadband infrastructure, while failing to reimburse those individuals or small businesses who suffered great economic loss would be a betrayal of the stated purpose of the “rescue funds.” The temptation, to any city, to use these funds for pet projects will be great. To avoid this unfortunate circumstance, citizens need to be aware of the government’s rescue plan and use their voices to insist that the money be used appropriately.
(One possible fair solution) 1) Make the citizenry aware that funds are available for economic relief upon the submitting of an application outlining income in the several years prior to the pandemic as compared to income during the time of the pandemic. 2) Provide transparency to the people of Sikeston on how the funds are spent without revealing actual names of persons or businesses. 3) Allocate monies for payment of a company or person who would oversee legitimate income needs and disbursal of funds.
Anna K. Voelker