Lawrence County American Rescue Plan Fund $8.8 Million - Where Should the Money Go?
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
LAWRENCE COUNTY - ( April 10,2022) - The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. The provisions of the act establishes the Corona Virus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Act Fund, which designates $65.1 billion to counties.
Questions remain where the $8.8 Million of ARPA funds will go, Justice Study calls for a new court room, jail, and under one roof
Counties in the State of Indiana will have until 2024 to spend their allocations. County Commissioners will need to adopt an ordinance establishing the counties ARPA funds. All expenditures out of those funds must be appropriated by the county council.
Public meeting 4:00 p.m. giving the public time to speak about where APRA funds should go
There will be a public meeting held at 4:00 p.m. at the StoneGate Arts & Education Center that will allow the public to speak where some of those funds should be allocated.
Unlike the CARES - Act disbursal of funds, the county council will work closely with the county commissioners in allocating those funds.
Justice Study calls for a $46 Million new Jail Should ARPA Funds be used for a new jail?
There have been certain county offices who have already have placed a request for some of the ARPA funds. Lawrence County Recorder Myron Rainey has requested funds to help digitalize his office records, Lawrence County Tourism Director Tonya Chastain, has turned into a wish list of projects, and other officer holders have turned their specific requests for funding.
The Lawrence County Volunteer Fire Departments was not allocated any CARES -Act funding of the $1.4 Million. Several non-profits and school corporations who already received millions in CARES -Act Funds also received money from Lawrence County government for their organizations.
The volunteer fire departments were in the direct impact of the COVID-pandemic responding to medical emergencies many quarantined under the guidance of the Lawrence County Health Department.
Township Volunteer Fire Departments were told they could not access APRA Funds - Could ARPA go towards a county ambulance service?
The county's fire departments were told in a previous commissioners meetings that due to restrictions on the allocations of those funds they cannot access those fund.
" We are not against the volunteer fire departments but we must follow strict guidance of the APRA," said Dustin Gabhart Lawrence county commissioners.
Could ARPA funds be used for a county park system?
" We have been fortunate in the last four years to be able to fund most of all the actual needs of within our area of responsibility. With the influx of additional funding, we may be able to fulfill some areas that have been set aside due to a lack of funding," said Rodney Fish President of Lawrence County Commissioners.
" While many have perceived the ARPA funds as a windfall for local government agencies, it has also created some conflict due to misunderstanding of the restrictions for the use of those funds. To assure the county complies with the rules we have contracted with Baker/Tilley to act as our consultants in determining what is and is not appropriate in dispersing those funds. Changes as recent as a few weeks ago have made the final ruling a moving target for us. Misuse of the funds could cause the county to repay those dollars allocated improperly out of our existing limited county funds. We as commissioners are looking at a number of actions to utilize those funds to positively affect the highest number of people," said Fish.
Should ARPA funds go towards road and bridge projects?
The local ordinance will list allowable uses of the ARPA funds and reference the county plan. The ordinance can be amended as needed.
The audit of the CARES-Act funds showed there were lack of internal controls over the expenditures. The first disbursal of funds were done in 2021 and remaining funds disbursed later this year, approximately in May of this year.