County Approves Initial Distribution of ARPA Funds
In conjunction with the annual mid-year budget adjustments, the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners approved on August 5 the first phase of appropriations from its $26 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds. This initial distribution totaled $9 million, for projects identified as necessary to address immediate negative health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on our community and on county operations. 

These one-time dollars must be invested by the end of 2024 within four broad eligible use categories, set forth by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The eligible uses include responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, responding to workers performing essential work during the pandemic, offsetting the reduction of revenues to the county from 2020-2023, and investing in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. Except for the lost revenue reimbursement piece, the focus must also be on mitigating problems caused by or exacerbated by the pandemic, including helping hardest hit businesses and industries rebound, and helping disproportionately affected residents and neighborhoods.

The County Board held a special workshop in May to review the rules on spending the funds, and guiding principles to ensure ideas don't create a future fiscal cliff after the funds ran out. We also discussed initial strategies and ideas for potential projects, and heard from some key leaders in Calhoun County to help frame high level needs of the community. Since then I've had numerous conversations with community leaders and have followed up on lots of requests for funding, both external to the county and within our elected offices, departments and the courts.  The process to develop future allocations of funds will continue throughout the next three-year spending period, with a potential project list now topping $50 million..

Click here to view the County's Phase I ARPA Appropriation Resolution and list of approved projects.

Within this $9 million are funds for the County Road Department for replacement of revenue losses in 2020 contingent on the lack of federal or state reimbursement, funds to improve the environmental and safety aspects within County facilities, including negative pressure cells in the jail, higher powered generators, and touchless restroom fixtures, improvements in information technology to better support public and employee online services, additional funding for substance use disorder prevention and treatment, and money to help the courts get back to operating at full capacity and beyond. The County also awarded the Calhoun County Fairground Board a grant to reimburse for lost revenue from the cancelled county fair last year, and the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority to help kickstart housing initiatives in partnership with the state, other local governments and private community partners.

We look forward to continuing to work with other local governments and community organizations to help emerge from the pandemic and its negative impacts as quickly as possible using this dedicated source of funding from the federal government. We also will strive to leverage any state ARPA funded programs that become available to counties from its $6.5 billion allocation.

Click here to read the Administrator's full report

The Calhoun County Board of Commissioners will meet in person at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 19 at the County Building, which is located at 315 W Green St., in Marshall, Mich. This meeting will be streamed live on the County Youtube Channel.