116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The city of Cedar Rapids is receiving $28 million from the federal American Rescue Plan. Linn County is receiving $44 million through the legislation passed by Congress.
During a presentation to the City Council last month, staff discussed the broad outlines of how the city would like to spend those funds. Housing and social services were among the city’s top priorities. And city leaders hope to coordinate those efforts with Linn County.
Linn County leaders are holding public hearings this month to get input from residents on how best to spend the county’s rescue plan dollars. Housing and social services also appear to be at the top of the list for those attending. The county plans to start accepting applications later this year from organizations to apply for a share of the funds.
While the county and city held a joint news conference to discuss relief funding last month, the city has moved forward with funding some of the identified priority areas while the county continues to gather feedback and has been less detailed on how funds would be spent.
At the county's first public forum, there weren't any funding buckets identified, just areas it could spend the funds under federal guidelines. Meanwhile the city leveraged existing feedback based on post-derecho outreach efforts and ongoing needs from service providers, nonprofits and other partners.
If the city and county go their own way, it’s a missed opportunity. Working together, they could seek more ambitious affordable housing options and more robust services for residents who need help. These are regional problems that demand regional cooperation.
Among Cedar Rapids’ other priorities is west side flood protection in the city’s core, which is also home to county facilities. It’s another opportunity for cooperation, especially with the influx of federal dollars.
It’s a subject that’s come up many times in recent years. City officials say they’d like the county’s help. County leaders say they’ll consider it if the city requests help. Then, nothing gets done.
The lack of cooperation has been a frustration for years. Every election, candidates promise to do better and work together. It’s an issue every election because the promises don’t become action. Sometimes the differences are substantive. But other times, personal conflicts and politics poison the well.
Deciding how to spend federal dollars to help city and county residents presents a fresh chance to prove that cooperation on major initiatives is possible and public needs. City officials have expressed interest in coordination. The county shouldn’t miss this opportunity.
(319) 398-8262; firstname.lastname@example.org