DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Concerns over how the City of Dayton is allocating federal funding was a topic at Wednesday night’s City Commission meeting. Small business owners and community members are calling for more transparency and more time to apply.

The City of Dayton will receive $138 million through the American Rescue Plan Act, and the city has opened it up to the community to apply for some funds.

Outside City Hall before the meeting, several business owners and community members called for racial equity as the city accepts applications for American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“We want transparency and we want equity,” small business owner and protest organizer Jo Cooley-Love said.

They’re asking the city to extend the application period beyond October 29 to hold more sessions to walk people through the process, and create an equity plan to distribute the money.

“So that they can maintain their small businesses that they’ve worked and put their blood, sweat and tears in, just to have the pandemic not only hit it, but also have the funds that should be going to them to keep them going snatched from their hands,” Cooley-Love said.

City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the city set priority outcomes for the funding, including racial equity and inclusion, quality of life and revenue replacement across six focus areas.

“Because when we are dealing with federal funding, there are a lot of regulations and compliance issues that we must follow,” Dickstein said.

Dickstein said the city has received 66 applications so far, and has held nine technical assistance workshops to help applicants. She said they will look into planning another workshop in the evening ahead of the deadline.

“This is an absolutely once in a lifetime opportunity and that we absolutely need to be intentional and strategic,” Dickstein said.

City Commission will hold a public work session on November 3 to look at where the money needs to go.

There will then be several community meetings in December, and the commission will hold the final vote on December 16.