Leaders in Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration provided an update today about how the city would spend its first round of $255 million in federal stimulus money. Standing in for the mayor, chief of staff Sharon Dumas outlined plans to spend the first batch of federal funding on revenue recovery, community and economic development, and public safety. She did not answer a reporter’s question about whether specific plans would be attached to future stimulus allocations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic changed Cleveland,” Dumas remarked. “Much of the economic and social progress we were making as a community was halted by a disease that fundamentally altered how we spent time with our family, engaged our neighbors, experienced our communities, went to work, and so much more. While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, we are already at work on positioning Cleveland to not only regain the momentum we lost due to the pandemic, but also to begin a true economic recovery that ultimately leads to Cleveland becoming a safer, healthier and more equitable city.”
In short, Jackson wants the bulk of the first batch of stimulus money — about $108 million — to go towards making up for lost revenues during pandemic. The city lost millions of dollars in income tax, admissions tax, and other revenues in 2020, which usually support city services such as housing court, vacant lot maintenance and recreation center operations, Dumas said.
The balance of Jackson’s spending plan includes $75 million for community and economic development programs, $15 million for “strategic” demolition, and $26 million for public safety.
When prodded by reporter Robin Goist of Cleveland.com whether plans would be introduced with spending allocations — a pertinent question given the $20 million earmark for citywide broadband at Monday night’s council meeting — Dumas responded, “Yes, we anticipate that there will be some adherence to a plan, unless certain circumstances require something different.”
Dumas said the plan was crafted with input from over 2,000 residents who responded to a citywide survey, but we’ll have to trust them at their word on that. The Land filed a public records request for copies of the survey responses, but the city has yet to respond to that request.
Read the full report on the mayor’s press conference from Cleveland.com here.
Lee Chilcote is editor of The Land.