By STACIE POTTS and KAREN ROSENBERG Like every city and town in Rhode Island, Cranston has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in many different ways. There has been loss of revenue to the city, essential workers directly impacted by the pandemic,
Like every city and town in Rhode Island, Cranston has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in many different ways. There has been loss of revenue to the city, essential workers directly impacted by the pandemic, small businesses struggling, disruption in education and housing and food insecurity.
To address these needs, President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021 the “American Rescue Plan Act” (ARPA) – a $1.9 trillion appropriation to:
Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control.
Replace lost public sector revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs.
Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses.
Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic.
Cranston will receive $42.6 million through ARPA to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic on the local level. $7.8 million has already been allocated in the current budget to offset revenue losses due to the pandemic. It is vitally important that the remaining $34.8 million be spent on priorities that will benefit all of Cranston.
Input from Cranston citizens is crucial to deciding what the spending priorities will be. In fact, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued guidance that public input should be sought.
To that end, a resolution has been introduced to the City Council by Council Vice-President Robert Ferri, Ward 3 Council Member John Donegan and Council-at-large Member Jessica Marino for the City Council to hold public meetings to hear from City residents about how we think the $34.8 million in ARPA funds should be used. The resolution provides for the City Council to prepare a report regarding community priorities identified through this process.
Cranston Forward strongly believes that the City should gather and be guided by community input on this important matter. It is important that our elected officials hear from the citizens of Cranston on what is important to them for this funding.
We urge Cranston residents to attend the City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 22 to let the Council (and Hopkins Administration) know that the input process should be structured in such a way to maximize access for community members from across Cranston to have a voice and for the funds to be spent to meet the most critical needs identified by community members.
This unprecedented funding offers Cranston the chance to invest in our city and residents for years to come. It’s crucial that our elected leaders hear from you. Tell your City Councilors, they need to host community meetings to hear how residents want this money to be spent.
To learn more about Cranston Forward, how to contact your City Councilor or how to get involved and become a member, visit www.CranstonForward.org/ARPA.
Stacie Potts and Karen Rosenberg are board co-chairs for Cranston Forward, a grassroots organization advocating for responsive, inclusive, transparent city government that serves the needs of the community.
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