A screenshot of Ward 3 Cleveland City Council Member Kerry McCormack discussing a downtown hotel project at the Cleveland City Council Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee meeting on May 1, 2023.
Ward 3 Cleveland City Council Member Kerry McCormack discusses a downtown hotel project. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Covered by Documenters Janelle James and Kellie Morris

Civic participation nixed as ARPA use: In its last meeting of 2022, Cleveland City Council created a special fund to house $215 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money. At Monday’s meeting — and finalized by full council afterward — the committee removed civic participation as a category the city can spend that money on. And it added the following to the already-existing list of ARPA priorities: 

  • Public and capital improvements
  • Public health
  • Enhancing the effectiveness and accessibility of government services

Earlier this year, council scrapped a proposal to use APRA money for participatory budgeting, which lets residents lead the budgeting process for some public money.

‘A model’ of criminal justice reform: The committee gave the Cleveland Municipal Court the OK to contract with Court Community Service. The legislation, which council passed later that night, approved spending nearly $370,000 to allow the court to provide alternatives to incarceration and heavy fines for people convicted of low-level offenses. The people in the program do community service hours with nonprofits and government agencies. “I think you are a model of what we need to continue to do when it comes to criminal justice reform,” Council Member Kerry McCormack told court officials.

TIF of the iceberg: A downtown hotel project moved forward, but not without some questions  from committee members. They wanted to understand precisely what the developer — NuovoRE — was asking the city for. Officials explained that the city would give up  an estimated $4.4 million in tax revenue over 30 years as part of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement. That money would help fund the renovation at 1900 E. 6th St. Project partners expect the effort to cost $64.3 million and create 105 full-time jobs. Full council passed the proposal later that night.

Wondering what residents thought Cleveland should spend ARPA money on? Check out this searchable database created by Cleveland Documenters of more than 1,100 ARPA spending suggestions from community members.

Cleveland Documenters pays and trains people to cover public meetings where government officials discuss important issues and decide how to spend taxpayer money.

Assignment Editor (he/him)
Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.