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There is no disputing the fact the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic downturn have had a dramatic negative impact on Moline residents, businesses and civic life. Even as exciting new projects like the revamped Interstate 74 bridge and corridor improvements move forward, other progress on economic development, public health and fiscal stability has stalled over the past 18 months.
But the good news is help is on the way.
Thanks to responsible budget management, thoughtful and metric-based strategy-setting sessions by City Council and the pending infusion of more than $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funds, Moline is poised to make transformative and lasting changes that will position it for growth and prosperity.
To help local governments, which have borne the brunt of the costs of the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, designed to deliver $350 billion to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments, to bolster their response to the COVID-19 emergency and its economic impacts.
Moline's share - $20.78 million that must be spent in the next two years - will be used to support three major "pillars" identified by City Council. Those are infrastructure, economic development and quality of place.
Infrastructure must be bolstered and improved to help position the city for long-term success and to make its neighborhoods and business districts desirable for new development. Economic development funds will be used primarily to offset the economic harm the pandemic had on workers, households, small businesses and the public sector. Quality of place funds will be used to create new public spaces and other quality-of-life amenities that make Moline a desirable community in which to live, work and play.
ARP funds must be divided, by law, into two categories: unrestricted (which gives city leaders the flexibility to spend in areas of their choosing) and restricted (which must be used for direct financial aid to offset pandemic-caused losses, public health initiatives and water, sewer and broadband projects.) Moline will have $14.38 to spend on unrestricted projects, of which $9.7 million is earmarked for infrastructure, $2.16 million on quality of place and $2.11 million on economic development.
In the restricted category, $4 million will be spent on water, sewer and broadband projects; $2.12 million on stabilizing economic impacts and $110,000 on public health initiatives.
Here are some examples of projects from the flexible, unrestricted category and their estimated pricetags:
The following items are in the restricted category: