CINCINNATI — The City Council Budget and Finance Committee’s agenda on Tuesday was 40 pages long, front and back, loaded heavy with nearly 100 local organizations requesting a portion of the city’s remaining American Rescue Plan funds.
Narrowing it down will be difficult, committee chair David Mann said Tuesday, even after eliminating the groups that don’t qualify under new federal guidelines. Council is required to allocate the money to pandemic-related projects, including making up lost revenues, and can’t keep it to build the city’s reserve.
Mann’s got specific priorities in mind: “I think a need that goes to unemployment, youth activities — those are pretty critical, particularly with the summer months coming ahead of us.”
And there are a wide variety of requests that could qualify. Vanessa Freytag, who runs 4C for Children, wants the city to allocate more than $5 million to child care funding that would help working parents.
“Our workforce recovery is, without question, dependent on our child care recovery,” she said. “We’re really talking about the fact that childcare is an infrastructure component of our economic recovery, and it’s really the workforce behind the workforce.”
ArtWorks Cincinnati has submitted its own request for $500,000, which president Joe Muraca said is critical to supporting artists who have been affected by the pandemic — especially the group’s apprentices.
"Because of the pandemic, many of the youth apprentices, especially those in underserved communities…have been without jobs, and they are necessary and significant earners in our community,” he said. “These dollars really are about economic recovery, and this is really a chance to put dollars back in the pockets of those who need it while teaching them skills in which they'll make an impact on our communities and their families for generations to come."
Other asks from local groups include a request to keep the Black Lives Matter mural downtown, to fund affordable housing projects and to invest more in Shot Spotter, the gunshot-detection technology that helps police locate shootings in the city.