Davis and Decatur Leaders Oppose Reclassification of Decatur’s Metropolitan Statistical Area Designation
A proposal from President Biden’s Office of Management and Budget would take away Decatur’s “metro” status, risking access to federal funding and localized employment data
U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Decatur Leaders oppose a proposal from President Biden’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that would change the definition of municipalities that qualify for a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or “Metro” status. Currently, municipalities receive an MSA designation if their population exceeds 50,000 persons. A proposal from OMB would raise that threshold to 100,000. “Metro” status gives municipalities access to federal grant funding for certain programs and localized economic data, which assists economic development officials with maintaining and attracting businesses to the area.
Rep. Davis joined a group of colleagues in the U.S. House today in urging the Acting Director of OMB to oppose reclassification of the MSA definition. You can find a copy of the letter to OMB here.
“The ‘metro’ designation is critically important for Decatur, particularly as we work to recover from this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Davis. “’Metro’ status gives Decatur access to federal funding and economic tools to help local officials attract new businesses and grow our local economy. It is a great tool for Decatur and countless municipalities across the country. Now is the worst possible time to take those resources away from Decatur. I strongly oppose this proposed change in the MSA definition and urge officials at OMB to reverse course.”
“We don’t yet know what the impact will be of this proposed statistical name change, but communities of our size cannot afford to have our funding and resources diminished simply due to a name change. There are many state and federal resources that are allocated to MSAs which Decatur and our surrounding suburbs rely on to fund regional transportation projects, support public transportation, provide for affordable housing and support healthcare options for the region. If Decatur loses out on the benefits provided for as being classified as an MSA, the other communities here in Macon County will also suffer. Decatur has historically been recognized as an MSA because we support a much larger area than just incorporated city limits. There needs to be assurances that those resources, whether financial or data collection, will continue regardless of the proposed change to a micropolitan area. If it is just a name change, we can live with that, but if there is a reduction of anything as a result, we will fight for the preservation of our current designation. Decatur is adamantly opposed to losing the MSA designation.” - Julie Moore Wolfe, Mayor of Decatur
“The recent recommendation made to the Office of Management and Budget negatively impacts Decatur and Macon County. Taking the Metropolitan Service Area (MSA) designation away from Decatur and replacing it with a ‘micropolitan’ statistical area, reduces our ability to receive economic data such as industry employment, wage data, and eligibility for federal highway and transportation funds. Our community deserves to be on the front end of receiving federal assistance. I recognize and applaud Congressman Davis’s efforts and urge all legislators to stand with us and recommend leaving our MSA as is.” - Mirinda Rothrock, President of the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce
Rep. Davis’s letter states in part: “We write today to express our concern about the recommendations from the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee (Committee) published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2021 (Federal Register Number 2021-00988). Specifically, we are opposed to the reclassification of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as an area with a population of at least 100,000. This change will result in 144 areas in 45 states and Puerto Rico losing their MSA designation…”
“…Finally, though we realize that the Committee does not take policy outcomes into consideration when offering its recommendations for the MSA threshold change, and we know that the U.S. Census Bureau and OMB routinely advise federal agencies that the MSA designation should not be used as a basis for implementing policy, it is well-known that federal agencies have long ignored that advice. As such, we would be remiss if we did not highlight how this proposed change could negatively impact our local communities. Many federal programs incorporate the MSA designation into the decision-making structure of how federal dollars are spent. From the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), to the Office of Personnel Management’s Locality Pay Program for General Schedule Employees, to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Medicare payment system for hospital inpatients, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, to name a few, the definition of what constitutes an MSA is critically important to communities across America. Losing an MSA designation could mean tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in lost federal grant money to communities already struggling to rebuild economic engines that have been damaged by our current Covid-19 crisis…”