Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted last year, is meant to help communities rebound from the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Three initiatives recently gained approval from Meriden’s American Rescue Plan Steering Committee. Those approvals now go to the City Council.
In the interests of full disclosure, we’ll mention that one of the applications involves the RJ Media Group, which owns the Record-Journal. A partnership with city economic officials and the Midstate Chamber of Commerce seeks $300,000 to help local businesses recover from the economic downturn spurred by the pandemic. As the Record-Journal reported, Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati called the proposal’s local focus “exactly what ARP money” is for.
We are also in full support of the other two applications that received committee approval. If the council grants authorization, funding sought will come from $36.3 million that is the city’s ARP allocation.
The city’s Health & Human Services Department is seeking more than $1.27 million to add a full-time health nurse to provide daily care, a nurse administrator to watch over Meriden’s school health program, and a public health clinic supervisor. The nurse administrator position is an established one that has been vacant since 2018.
Considering the current state of the pandemic, the need for these positions and their importance in providing essential services should seem obvious. Lea Crown, Health and Human Services director, told the committee the positions would also give relief to current staff. “Staff are incredibly burnt out,” she said.
The other application receiving preliminary approval came from Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis Inc., a respected local nonprofit organization that supports victims of domestic violence. The agency is seeking $618,000 in funding over three years to contend with demand that “is three times the average requests” as a consequence of the pandemic, according to the application, “and Chrysalis is facing budget constraints due to a lack of funds for all programs, particularly our transitions Housing Program.”
City Councilor Yvette Cortez, the committee chair, noted that crisis services throughout the nation are being used at an “extremely high rate” and are “incredibly important.”
The committee took an important step in recognizing the need to bolster the city’s health department, local businesses and the essential efforts of Chrysalis. We hope to see the committee nods gain full council approval.