Bloomington city leaders consider how to spend millions in federal COVID aid

Bloomington aldermen share their wish list for how to spend millions allocated to the city from...
Bloomington aldermen share their wish list for how to spend millions allocated to the city from the American Rescue Plan.(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 9:10 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - The Bloomington City Council Monday night held the first of what’s likely to be many public discussions about what to do with almost $13.4 million from the American Rescue Plan to ease the community’s economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speeding up long-awaited infrastructure improvements, including sewer upgrades following last June’s historic flooding, were at or near the top of most council member’s priority lists.

“Not every day do you have something like this sort of fall into your lap, and I hope that we can take the time to do it right,” said Ward 7 Council member Molie Ward.

Besides sewer and roadwork, Ward’s wish list includes helping seniors find affordable housing.

Alderman Jamie Mathy listed several priorities.

“Starting the ball for sewers, figuring out child care, thinking about mental health, and then affordable housing,” said Mathy.

Besides infrastructure, council member Donna Boelen said the council should look at expanding broadband access.

“People talk about equity. Broadband would be a much better use to provide internet access to the larger community,” Boelen said.

If money is going to be spent on sewers, Alderman Jeff Crabill said it should go to preventing sewage backups like what happened during the June flood.

The federal dollars earmarked for the city is not a windfall, warned Alderman Nick Becker.

“We have needs that we have to do, and that $13 million isn’t that much across four years.

The council has until the end of 2024 to decide what to do with the money, and dollars must be spent by the end of 2026.

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