With 2022 almost here, I thought it would be a good time to provide Great Falls folks with a brief outline of what I, as a City Commissioner, consider to be two very important areas of focus in the coming year.
First, I believe we need to make it a priority to follow up on the excellent work the Great Falls Crime Task Force has done in providing a comprehensive set of recommendations to the City Commission, City administration, and general public.
You can read the complete text of the recommendations here.
We can begin publicly vetting the low-to-no-cost policy/priority recommendations and start to approve and implement those elements almost immediately.
Once we get that ball rolling we can go after tackling the larger issues – like deciding on the level of additional resources, if any, needed for local law enforcement and the criminal justice system and how to pay for them.
The second priority I see coming up is the question of how the City of Great Falls will utilize the $19.47 million in American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding we have received.
You can find an informative spreadsheet outlining ARPA eligible projects suggested by City administration and departments here.
Public input will be very important in this process going forward.
My own view is that the ARPA funds, intended to help communities recover from the harsh economic and social impacts of COVID-19, should be used to help EVERYONE in Great Falls to the greatest extent possible. COVID-19 affected ALL of us.
Already there are local special interests lobbying to receive large chunks of the ARPA funds in order to act as grantors to sub-recipients. I’m not convinced that this is the best or fairest way to handle distribution of these funds but I’m always ready to listen.
Either way, we’ll all need to pay close attention and carefully weigh all of the options before deciding how to utilize the funding.