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Carbondale asks, how to spend $7.8 million in COVID relief

By Geoff Ritter
updated: 9/22/2021 2:39 PM

Carbondale leaders are looking for ways to spend nearly $8 million in federal relief funds, and the community can expect to hear more about it.

At Tuesday's meeting of the city council, elected officials discussed possible ways to spend more than $7.8 million the city expects to receive as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March.

The law provides nearly $2 trillion in economic stimulus and relief to states and municipalities across the country.

Carbondale and other municipalities are allowed to use their respective shares to respond to COVID-19 and its economic impacts on households, small businesses and not-for-profits, and impacted industries.

During an hour-long discussion, council members focused on finding ways to most benefit the community. Ideas include extra payments to community organizations that already receive annual funding from the city.

"One thing this pandemic has shown us is the fragility of communities in general," Councilman Adam Loos said. "Anything that makes Carbondale a more resilient community, and to the extent we can shoehorn that into these regulations, that's good."

Much discussion also centered around possibly making desperately needed repairs to the Eurma C. Hayes Center, as well as providing additional funding to the Carbondale Warming Center and the Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless.

The city has until the end of 2024 to use the funds.

Several council members said opening the process up to public suggestions is imperative, although no process for doing so was finalized on Tuesday.

"I think it should be an open call to agencies," Councilman Tom Grant said. "It's something we have to do."

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