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Lee County can’t connect to citizens who plan rescue funds



Lee County Board of Commissioners during a meeting.

Lee County has $ 150million available for the American Rescue Plan Act. This is a unique opportunity to fix some of SWFL’s greatest problems. You just did it, according to the county.

Lee County recently presented its plans to spend the money in a workshop for commissioners. This format prohibits any public input. Kevin Ruane, chairman of Women for a Better Lee asked that the process slow down in order to ensure money is distributed effectively and properly. Women For a Better Lee voted for a citizens council that would distribute funds efficiently. The county had previously reached out for donations to several prominent businesses, non-profits, and other service providers prior to this meeting. Because we believe it’s fair for residents to also be involved, we applied to set up a citizens’ committee.

Learn more:US COVID-19 Help to Lee County: $ 377 million; County looks at spending plans

Learn more:Guest opinion

District decided to take a completely different approach. They published the following shortly after receiving this request. “Community Impact Survey”Online solicitation of public contributions. We feel it is appropriate to question if the survey was made in a hurry to avoid calls for more detailed public consultation. One example is that an entire group was left out of ARPA. “Infrastructure”This is an essential oversight in a county that has older pipes. Otherwise, sludge flows regularly from the taps.

Charlotte Newton

Only 712 of the 760,000 Lee County residents responded to our survey as of September 30, 2010. They aren’t representative of all the residents in the area, which is not surprising. The survey participant was 60 percent female. Half of respondents reported having household incomes greater than $ 100,000; the 2019 county median was $ 557,832. A little less than 35% of total responses were over 65 (compared to 29% on the census) while more than half the respondents came from two-person households. Are these individuals concerned about childcare provision? It is concerning that the Lee County public consultation appears to be over.

Open questions were also used to solicit project ideas for different categories. The answers were then converted to word clouds in order to obscure specific ideas and remove unnecessary details. We found them completely useless.

Which place should money be?

Nonprofit Assistance and Capacity building is the biggest beneficiary, with US$ 20 million. Surprisingly, only 19.66% of respondents were able to rank their top three projects categories when they were asked. The highest rated category was Behavioral and Mental Healthcare Services (52.53%) “Help for the homeless and the homeless”(51.4%), and Food Security (47.61%). The total funding for these categories is $ 9.8 million. $ 1.8million and $ 5. million respectively. The three highest-placed projects will receive more money together than those that were last placed. However, “assistance to the homeless”It ranks second because only homeless projects are funded; despite the continuing affordability crisis in the area, there is zero allocated for housing projects.

“Workforce Certifications & Training”Also, despite ranking 5, 26.54% ranked it among the top three priorities. A further survey revealed that 26% of respondents said that they have “problems finding skilled workers at work”. At the workshop, the draft budget included $ 5,000,000 for vocational training aid. This has been removed. What is the reason?

These assignments are amazing in their arbitrariness.

Women For a Better Lee has again called on the county for a citizens council in order to ensure that these funds are distributed so as to be most benefiting local residents. We are tired of being sidelined by the county, and want to be part of them. Now is the time.

Charlotte Newton, Fort Myers, wrote the guest-comment column for Women for a Better Lee.

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