Landers outlines four areas to use ARPA funds, says plan to spend $11.1 million is on the drawing board
More than $11 million from the American Rescue Plan Act has Genesee County’s name on it, but it’s too early to speculate exactly how that money will be used, County Manager Matt Landers reported to legislators earlier this week.
Landers, in outlining the four areas on which the money can be spent, said he emphasized to county lawmakers that the current federal guidelines have been released on an interim basis and the final rule is not expected until mid-July.
“Between not having the final rule yet, plus the fact that the feds are doing this in a two-traunch allocation of the money, no official roadmap of how were going to spend the $11,125,969 has been drawn up,” Landers said.
“They’re doing this specifically because they don’t want you to spend all of the money now. They want you to evaluate how the pandemic is progressing and to be able to adjust later on with the funding they give you.”
Payments, in equal installments, to municipalities will be made sometime this year and again 12 months later.
According to a directive from the federal government, eligible uses are as follows:
- To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.
Landers said his office is calculating what won’t be covered by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act (of 2020) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with outstanding expenses to be covered with ARPA funds.
“We’re still investigating what we can and can't do here regarding tourism,” he said. “I am checking to see if this is the way we can assist the Chamber of Commerce for a rebranding effort, along with assistance to some of our local businesses most impacted by the pandemic and to assist our tourism sector.”
- To respond to workers performing essential work during COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers.
- For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency.
Landers reported that the county treasurer’s office has calculated the amount of lost revenue by Genesee County, using the prescribed three formulas.
“The most beneficial calculation of lost revenue is approximately $6 million,” he said. “There are strings attached to this money, but early thoughts on how to utilize this portion is on the construction of the Genesee County Jail.”
He also said he is talking to department heads about possible investments and for cybersecurity upgrades proposed by the Information Technology department.
- To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
Landers said it there could be around $5 million available for allocating to broadband and water infrastructure needs.
“Limitations on upload/download speed may impact the effectiveness of the broadband allocation,” he advised.
The county manager said he will be meeting with other county administrators on June 4 in Madison County and with New York State Association of County leaders “to put our heads together to see what works.”
“The interim final guidance provides us with a lot of information, but also a lot of questions,” he said. “It is too early to provide a complete list of recommendations, but it is safe to say we will be able to allocate all of the $11 million and will allocate it in the most impactful and transparent way.”