By Sherry Larson
defender of the people
The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law on March 11, 2021 – $1.9 trillion in federal funding, and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) $350 billion in COVID-19 relief to state governments and premises. Hometreasury.gov says the SLFRF’s critical goals are to “combat the pandemic and support families and businesses grappling with its public health and economic impacts, maintain vital public services, even amid the declines in income resulting from the crisis, and to build a strong and resilient society”. , and an equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity.
The first half of the funding was allocated in the spring of 2021. The second half will be distributed in the spring of 2022. According to multistate.us, Ohio will receive more than $5.6 billion. Adams County received $5,380,012.
The final rule simplified the standard allowance for thousands of small communities through $10 million in lost revenue. Recipients of $10 million or less could use these funds at their discretion for government services. Federalregister.gov explains that funds must be committed by Dec. 31, 2024, and expended by Dec. 31, 2026. Adams County must report annually because its population is less than 250,000 and its allocation was less than $10 million. These reports show how the funds were spent and the results achieved.
Commissioner Barbara Moore explained, “The big push for the use of money is infrastructure.
Commissioner Diane Ward discussed how the county distributes this funding: “We have established guidelines that must be followed and a form that must be completed. »
All local government agencies applying for project funding were required to complete an application form along with a 50-250 word narrative describing the project’s relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic, unless it falls within the guidelines on the water, sewer or broadband. When asked how they engaged community government agencies regarding their needs, Moore said, “We’re trying to figure out the best use and the greatest need. There is no doubt that Children’s Services is in need.
Ward explained, “We want to benefit as many constituents as possible with this funding. There are people in this county who still don’t have water. We are a county responsible for all sewer-free areas (unincorporated areas). We probably could have used the entire amount for infrastructure, but we had to provide the necessary services and protection for employees in the staging areas.
Ward continued, “We did a lot of collective prevention by putting glass and loudspeakers. We bought furniture for the Children’s Home and new flooring because there was a lot of carpet. Moore added, “We’ve committed $1 million to Children’s Services to build an addition to their facility.”
“We’ve committed $250,000.00 for broadband, but we don’t have a company doing it yet,” Commissioner Ward said. She explained that they had not given any money to any entity outside of the Adams County government. There are still requests that are undecided. They are not rejected but are awaiting further consideration. Ward said, “We’re looking at the federal government and allocating more money for infrastructure.” Moore added, “We wouldn’t want to use the ARP money for something that we can get money for elsewhere. But some of the money could match another grant.
As previously stated, all funds must be committed by Dec. 31, 2024, and expended by Dec. 31, 2026. Ward clarified that larger projects, such as water and sewer lines, take time due to EPA requirements. She said, “That’s why they gave us more time. By 2026, hopefully, all of our infrastructure projects will be complete.
The process is difficult and commissioners have to reapply to receive the second installment. Ward is the follow-up and reporting person. She said: ‘Our main issue is that we didn’t want to put that burden on a county employee.
If anyone would like more information regarding the allocation and distribution methodology, this is a public record and you can contact the Commissioner’s Office. Receiving additional funding for the county is beneficial, but it can be complicated to navigate.
As Ward concludes, “It’s no easy task when it comes to federal funds.”