CLEVELAND — At Monday night's City Council Meeting, Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb plans to make his pitch on how to use the next round of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Signed by President Joe Biden nearly two years ago, the $1.9 trillion ARPA was conceived as a way to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and billions of dollars were sent directly to municipalities for them to decide how to spend them. In Cleveland, roughly $462 million was available at the start of Bibb's term in January of 2022, and Council has since signed off on millions in investments for things like housing reform and lead safety programs.
Now, Bibb wants to dole out more than $40 million more to projects involving the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the local economy, and even city hall itself. The mayor said these programs "will help accelerate progress on literacy, mental health, and engagement."
"These ARPA funds are once-in-a-lifetime investments in Cleveland's future," Bibb said in a statement. "That's why we're focusing on the building blocks of a stronger tomorrow: our kids, our workers, and our civic fabric. It's this kind of catalytic investment in the things that matter most that will ensure Cleveland thrives for generations to come."
The mayor's office outlined the proposals as follows:
'Education for Everyone' - $16.68 million
- Initiatives supporting "innovative education practices," specifically ensuring "all early learners have supports for reading"
- Focusing on students in grades 6-12 "to establish stronger career pathway planning" for jobs that have "family-sustaining wages"
- Providing better physical and mental health services in all CMSD buildings "both on-site and remotely," with a particular effort to "destigmatize mental health"
'Inclusive Economic Recovery' - $13.5 million
- More training for jobs in "built environment" sectors such as construction, transit, green infrastructure, broadband, and lead and brownfield remediation, with a specific focus on bringing in more employees of color as well as more female workers
- Developing land and sites to bring more business to the Opportunity Corridor, "ultimately attracting more jobs to the City"
'Civic Participation Fund' - $5.5 million
- Spearheading a pilot program for a "participatory budgeting process," which will allow residents to have more of a say on how public dollars are spent as well as "vote for projects in their neighborhood"
City Hall upgrades - $4 million
- Funding to modernize 311 digital software with "a digital resident engagement platform and revamped call intake capabilities"
Violence prevention and public safety - $850,000
- Working with community members to come up with "a long-term violence prevention strategic plan"
The mayor plans to provide more details at tonight's public meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Council has not yet commented on his proposals.
All told, Cleveland received more than $500 million from the American Rescue Plan, with a portion of those funds being allocated under Bibb's predecessor Frank G. Jackson. Roughly $110 million was sent to the city's general fund in order to make up for losses caused by the pandemic.
Watch Mayor Bibb's one-on-one interview with 3News' Russ Mitchell from Monday: