Iowa Still Hasn’t Requested Rescue Plan Funds For Small Towns

Though the money has been going out since May, Iowa has yet to request American Rescue Plan money for the state’s small towns.

According to the Treasury Department, the total allocation would be $221,737,821, with the first half delivered this year. Only 11 other states have yet to put in an invoice for their funding.

All of Iowa’s counties and 12 of the cities have already received the first half of their American Rescue Plan money, directly from the federal government. This other allocation would be for the state government to distribute to local governments with populations less than 50,000. This $19.5 billion was set aside for smaller populations that might be overlooked in the rush for relief money.

But Iowa’s small communities haven’t received word on when that will happen.

“To my knowledge, we haven’t had any contact or guidance from the state,” Ross Grooters, a Pleasant Hill city councilor, said in a press release through Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which was the first organization to draw attention to the issue yesterday.

Officials and candidates from cities across the state have made and shared plans for what they want to do with the Rescue Plan money.

In Sioux City, which will receive more than $40 million, most of the money will go toward infrastructure, including broadband, according to Alex Watters, a Sioux City council member.

“We’re talking about improvements in our infrastructure that have been long overdue, but oftentimes fall short in the budget or fall short due to the lack of desire for rate increases,” he said. “This is a chance to better connect our community.”

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said the money would go toward replacing revenue the city lost last year in order to keep programs and initiatives running. The city will receive about $28 million.

Quentin Hart, mayor of Waterloo, has also pointed toward infrastructure goals, particularly with the city’s bridges and broadband internet. Waterloo will receive about $30 million.

Those cities wouldn’t be included in this round of money. Instead, Iowa would request the funds, and then small towns and municipalities would have 30 days to submit requests for a portion to use.

The American Rescue Plan, signed into law in March, is an economic stimulus bill meant to ease recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s also a broad stimulus bill, directed at multiple areas. Restaurants, individuals, rental assistance, food assistance, child care and vaccines are a few of the many recovery avenues the administration took.

“This is another example of how we’re putting the American Rescue Plan to work quickly and effectively, and showing the American people that their government can deliver — can deliver for them again and do it without waste,” President Joe Biden said in May.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

 

by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted 7/1/21

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