A task force of representatives from organizations serving Reno County, along with elected leaders and public officials, has formulated a bold plan of conducting up to 60 community listening sessions by Sept. 30, 2021, throughout Hutchinson and Reno County to find out from as many diverse voices as possible how residents would prioritize spending of $17-plus million earmarked for Reno County from the American Rescue Plan Act. This substantial infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs presents an exciting opportunity to rebuild a stronger, more equitable economy and community, impacting Reno County families most in need. The goal is to invite citizens to convene a meeting of eight to 20 Reno County residents who will offer their ideas on how our local governments can equitably spend ARPA money. The U.S. Treasury has issued spending guidelines for ARPA funds, so the meetings will be facilitated 90-minute discussions, held in person, and will focus on these broadly identified spending areas:
Equity-focused services Example: Addressing disparities in health care access or quality housing.
Broadband infrastructure Example: Addressing areas in Hutchinson and Reno County without internet access.
Support pay for essential workers Example: Premium pay for essential workers through grants.
Addressing negative economic impacts Example: Assistance for workers and families, small businesses, or impacted industries.
Water and sewer infrastructure Example: Improvements to infrastructure that include new facilities.
Replacing public sector revenue loss Example: Assistance to continue local government services in the event of budget shortfalls.
Supporting public health response efforts Examples: Assistance for mental health services, pay for public health employees or services aimed at containing the spread of COVID.
Input collected from the meetings will then be presented to the LEADCOMM team at Kansas State University’s Staley School of Leadership Studies, who will synthesize the findings in a final report to be presented this fall for consideration by Reno County governing bodies as they make the ultimate decisions on how ARPA funds should be spent.
Will be facilitated by Lance Patterson.
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