See below from a message from Edwardsville Mayor Caiharr.
An update since the last note regarding ARPA:
As many of you know, over the last several months, I’ve dedicated hours upon hours in zoom meetings, in person meetings, sending emails and making phone calls advocating for County ARPA funds to be invested in Edwardsville’s part of Wyandotte County. After all of this, the recommendation of the ARPA subcommittee (and approved by the Heath and Admin Standing Committee) was to allocate $0 of the $32M to any projects submitted by Edwardsville or Bonner Springs.
I was informed Thursday afternoon, around 4pm, by Commissioner Stites that this item was on that night’s agenda with Full Commission approval recommended. He informed me that if Mayor Harrington and I were able to attend the meeting, Mayor Garner would give us an opportunity to make one last plea before the commission.
Coming in to this meeting all but $2.6 of the $32 Million had been earmarked. I recommended moving $1.85 Million earmarked for affordable housing from County ARPA funds and instead funding that initiative from KCK’s $55 Million (since this would only benefit KCK residents). This $1.85 Million plus the $2.6 Million would open up $4.4 Million to be divided between Edwardsville and Bonner Springs projects.
After an hour and a half ‘on the stand’ fielding questions / statements from Commissioners justifying their decision to keep funding from leaving KCK, with the help of Commissioners Stites and Burroughs, the UG Commission finally agreed to allow Edwardsville and Bonner to divide the remaining $2.6 Million Wyco ARPA funds as long as Mayor Harrington and I agree to work with the advisor to ensure our projects are eligible with in the ARPA guidelines given to the UG by the Federal government. Without the invitation from Mayor Garner and the advocacy from Commissioner Burroughs and Commissioner Stites, we would have ended up with $0 of the $32 Million.
It has become apparent, by how much fight was needed for the left over scraps, where we fall on the priority list. The fight it took our Commissioners, Mayor Harrington and myself to get the ARPA left overs is just one of many examples of how the Unified Government does not work for Wyandotte County residents who live outside of Kansas City, KS. In every meeting I attend, I have been trying to change the culture of the UG, reminding staff and KCK Commissioners alike that we are Wyandotte County residents. We deserve to be given the same voice, services and investment as those in KCK. There is much work to be done.
There is a lot to be said regarding our lack of representation on the committee, lack of communication and the overall intention of our “Unified Government” to funnel County dollars in to one city while others are ignored, but this week I am Thankful for those who joined in the fight for Edwardsville and the outcome. Thank you to all who sent emails and made calls asking our County Board to fund projects in our Community. We are Wyandotte County residents and last Thursday, we were heard.
Mayor Carolyn Caiharr
The UG meeting is linked HERE with the ARPA discussion beginning at 1 hour 51 minutes.