City officials consider using social equity measures when deciding how to use and distribute city resources.
The Human Rights Commission discussed the idea of creating an Equity Index for the City of Jamestown at last week’s meeting to determine where to provide services and how best to meet community needs. . Mayor Eddie Sundquist told the commission how other cities have created an equity index in an effort to meet the needs of residents by considering a variety of factors.
He also explained that the administration is “move to a larger pool of data to help make decisions.”
“One of the things we’ve talked about here in the city is ensuring equity in the services we provide and the areas in which we provide those services,” Sundquist said. “I bring this up because at the same time we talk about social equity, we as a city are also engaging in a program that we received grant funding to start using to help assess the health of the piece.”
Sundquist said an equity index, made up of various data points in the community, has been used in other cities to determine where city services are provided and to help improve neighborhoods.
“They plotted various demographics to determine which areas have high social equity and which areas need more equity,” he said.
The mayor said an equity index typically takes into account factors such as environmental health, employment rates, poverty rates, graduation rates, proximity and accessibility to services, as well as a variety of other factors.
Once cities formulated an equity index, the index was used to help determine the different municipal services.
“What they use for this equity index is to prioritize financing, resource planning, loan distribution and corporate budgeting,” Sundquist said.
Sundquist asked the Commission on Human Rights to conduct research on what other cities have considered in an equity index and whether an equity index would benefit the community of Jamestown.
“I would like the Commission on Human Rights to help us research other equity index programs that cities have in place and whether we should create one here and what metrics we should use for it. TO DO”, he said. “I would like to know what you all think are the most important elements that should be included to help us determine where we provide services.”
The mayor told the commission that he would be the first committee to research the idea of an equity index, but would be able to work with groups such as the IDEA Coalition.
Although Sundquist told the commission that the city does not currently have a specific grant for forming a stock market index, he encouraged the commission to continue research and gather ideas that the city might consider as ‘she tries to set up a “complete” and “central” demographic database.