County, Municipalities Receiving First Half of American Rescue Plan Act Funds

Daniel Prince

County to receive $5.3 million total; city to get $3.8 million

Money is beginning flow into local governments across the county, state, and nation, as funds are distributed from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law back in March. $350 billion in fiscal recovery funds are being paid out directly to states, counties, municipalities, US territories, and tribal governments. Allocations are based on population size and are capped at 75% of the city’s most recent pre-pandemic budget as of January 27, 2020. Larger cities with more than 50,000 in population have a different formula for funding, which involves population size, poverty rates, and measures of housing instability.

WBCU News has individually reported the amounts the various governments will receive as each reported it at their various meetings over the past months. Here are the allocations all in one story, as a reminder:
Union County will receive $5.3 million. They have received the first half of the money, but none has been spent. At the October regular meeting, council voted to use some of the funds to contract with an engineering firm to get the engineering price and bid packet for a proposed new addition to the Union County Jail. As reported, a single-level addition of 16 cells or a double-level addition of 32 cells is being proposed. The addition will provide space to quarantine sick inmates, separate certain inmates from one another, and relieve overcrowding conditions. The expansion has not yet been approved by council but is one project that is on the table for the ARPA funds. The Union County Airport and Union County EMS have brought wish list items to council, asking for funding through ARPA funds, but no action has been taken.

The City of Union will receive a total of $3.8 million. None of that has been allocated by council.

The Town of Carlisle will receive approximately $205,000. They have voted to use it on improvements to their water system and to reimburse the county for expenses incurred in working with the town’s wastewater system.

Jonesville will be receiving a little over $417,000.

The Town of Lockhart will receive $227,500. Mayor Connie Porter mentioned using some of it to fix additional water lines in the town or to install new meters, but no action has been taken by council yet.

The US Department of Treasury has released guidelines pertaining to the use of funds. Using ARPA funds on unauthorized uses will result in a city or town having to repay those funds to the federal government. 50% of the funds have begun to be distributed starting in May, and the other half will come approximately a year later. Money can be used to support public health expenditures, such as COVID-19 mitigation, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff. They can use it to address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector. They can use it to replace lost public sector revenue, using the money to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic. They can provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors. They can also use it to invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expand access to broadband internet. Within those categories, governments have broad flexibility to decide how best to use the funding to meet the needs of their communities.

The funding is kept separate from each municipalities’ general funding accounts, and the money spent and projects it is spent on are reported to the US Treasury Department.

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