Earlier this year, the Biden administration unveiled the American Rescue Plan which will deliver $350 billion for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and bring back jobs. Of this, Sioux City will be receiving just over $40 million. This program is going to have a profound impact on our community. However, it is not necessarily a blank check. The US Department Treasury gave broad categories with which the monies can be used. There is also the hesitation that if funds are used for a project that would not qualify, they have to be reimbursed. Therefore, I would prefer to proceed with caution.
The City Council directed staff to look into various projects they thought were eligible and worth pursuing. Staff then presented the City Council options during two separate study sessions. These projects strike a balance of supporting organizations negatively impacted by the pandemic and proactively investing in infrastructure that will set Sioux City up for future growth.
Here is an outline of the projects identified with the disclaimer that not all of these projects may be pursued as they are outlined below. We may also receive further clarification for eligible projects.
- Increase capacity and improvements at WWTP
- improves our ability to support new business/industry.
- Reduce the likelihood of sewer rate increases in the near future.
- Fund the balance of other outstanding sewer projects
- Replace failing or at risk of failing water mains
- Install boost station that will improve pressures in a much-needed part of town.
- Extend water lines to support a new housing/business development.
- Fund a drainage ditch that will expand our business park and complete other project shortfalls.
- Increase business speeds to attract new business and allow growth for others
- Expand Wi-Fi capabilities into underserved neighborhoods- leveling the playing field for learning and connectivity.
- Establish parameters for organizations to apply for funding to offset losses incurred due to the pandemic.
- Establish parameters for hotels and tourism reliant businesses to apply for funding to offset losses incurred due to the pandemic.
Affordable Housing –
- Offer infrastructure improvements to support affordable housing developments.
- Look into housing improvement opportunities for those neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic. (Maybe difficult to identify/verify)
Again, these projects aim to help organizations and individuals most impacted by the pandemic and make serious investments in our infrastructure that will offset the need for future rate increases – something that will benefit all taxpayers. While all of the qualifications for eligible programs may not be crystal clear yet, this type of investment is sure to make a difference in our community,. I look forward to the growth we can experience from it.