Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Slow progress on distribution of ARP funding

·3 min read

Aug. 27—Sometimes the wheels of government at all levels turn slowly.

Back in December, Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. presented a plan to distribute $23.1 million in American Rescue Plan meetings.

Broderick and the Anderson City Council conducted several meetings requesting suggestions on how the funds should be allocated.

After months of back-and-forth between Broderick and the city council, a spending plan was adopted that included $9 million for infrastructure improvements and a similar amount for small businesses, not-for-profits, housing and to provide services to the homeless.

A part of the ordinance adopted by the council creates five committees to consider and make recommendations for the distribution of the funds.

In addition to council members and members of the city administration, an additional 20 citizens will be asked to serve on the committees.

The citizen members must be residents of the city of Anderson.

This week, Broderick said the committees will establish criteria for applying for funds.

Included is an appeal to the city council for any group that was not initially approved for funding.

Broderick said he expected the criteria and application to be posted on the city's website in 60 days at the earliest.

The mayor indicated he was making progress on selecting his appointments to the five committees.

Council President Rebecca Crumes said she is accepting recommendations from the other council members, having already received some from Councilman Ty Bibbs.

It's likely the council will either call a special meeting to name its appointments or do it at a regularly scheduled meeting.

It does seem that taking another 60 days to begin the process is a long time, especially when community groups are anxious to request funding.

An important requirement to be considered is that all allocated funds must provide documentation of how the funds were spent so it can be reported to the federal government.

The encouraging news about the city's plan is that they have a designated process to obtain citizen involvement in the allocation of the funding.

At this point in time, aside from the $3 million Madison County has already appropriated from its $25 million share of funding, no progress has been made for several months.

The county was criticized by the Indiana Public Access Counselor for not allocating the funds following any public input and decisions were made behind closed doors.

The requests for county funding were reportedly scored by the Madison County Council of Governments, but those scores were not made public.

Hopefully in the next few weeks county officials will adopt a similar model to that used in Anderson — meetings that are open to the public, citizen input and the appointing of committees to include county residents.

Local units of government have received a windfall of federal dollars to be used to make long-lasting improvements.

County officials and citizens can't let this opportunity slip away.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.