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Albany Unveils COVID Recovery Task Force Report

Mayor Kathy Sheehan (CENTER), Albany's COVID Recovery Task Force Co-Chairs Jahkeen Hoke(L) & Michael Whalen(R)
Dave Lucas / WAMC
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Mayor Kathy Sheehan (CENTER), Albany's COVID Recovery Task Force Co-Chairs Jahkeen Hoke(L) & Michael Whalen(R)

Albany officials gathered Tuesday morning in Lincoln Park to present the city’s COVID Recovery Task Force Final Report.

The city and the COVID Recovery Task Force are gearing up to allocate and distribute more than $80 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

On March 12 Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced the creation of the 41-member task force in order to restart Albany and build back better in the wake of the pandemic.

"This report provides us with guiding principles that will guide the decisions that are made by the city in our budget with respect to how we allocate this funding. We are also in the process of evaluating and hiring an outside firm to help us ensure that we are in compliance with, and that we have the resources to evaluate, responses to requests for proposals in order to address the needs that my administration and the council together identify as the priority needs that will be laid out in our 2022 budget. We are also looking to program some of this funding this year. And we hope to be making announcements about that in the near future. "

Sheehan, a Democrat running for a third term, says there are 250 program ideas in the 76-page report in five impact areas, including assistance to workers, small business support and recovery of the tourism, travel, arts and hospitality sectors.

Task Force Co-Chair Jahkeen Hoke says there's a lot of excitement for the city.

"There's a lot of projects that I think are going to be supported, not just through the COVID relief money, but also from the private sector and the investment groups. So with that, I did want to highlight some of the other things that we took out of this, the findings, which were our ability to cross collaborate with others, the county officials or the school departments, and really learn about what the community was missing and how the city can also support those findings and share it to those different agencies in those different departments."

Sheehan says she and the Common Council will be working on the spending plans over the next few weeks.

"And so we are sending a message to our community-based organizations and businesses and other groups who are seeking to apply for this funding in the coming months and year ahead, is to really be bold, you have to think outside the box. And it's important for you to collaborate, because we need to make sure that we're investing in sustainable enterprises. So with this one-time money, how are you going to sustain what it is you're trying to accomplish in the long-term when this funding is no longer available."

Sheehan adds that within the 2022 budget, which is now being prepared, she expects a certain amount of funding allocated to "each of the programmatic areas," with some funds being spent internally by individual projects the city will take on. The remainder would be available via requests for proposals.

Read the full report: