Rescue plan

Cumberland County Plans Investigation and Outreach on Use of American Rescue Plan Act Funds in Early 2022 | The Sentinel: News

Cumberland County plans to conduct public inquiries and release allocation priorities early next year regarding the county’s share of funding coming from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The strategy, discussed at the county finance commissioners meeting on Wednesday, comes about seven months after the county received its initial allocation of $ 24.2 million from the federal government in May. An additional federal payment of $ 25 million is expected next year.

“I’ve heard before that some of the potential grantees in certain areas are stressed out and have a hard time finding staff as they are, so trying to keep applications simple [is important]Said Toby Fauver, county grants consultant.

Fauver’s outline so far contemplates dividing the county’s share of ARPA funding into three broad categories.

The first would be immediate needs, such as mental health services, diversion, housing assistance and skills training. The second would be broader revitalization, such as affordable housing, public transit, water quality and other issues.

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The third would be the restoration of government services, including improvements to the county’s buildings and information technology, as well as the transfer of a portion of its income replacement funds to other organizations in the form of grants. .

Fauver said ARPA sets reporting requirements to the federal government for most projects, except for money used to make up for lost local government revenue. The county could take the replacement income it is entitled to – about $ 14.6 million of the total – and transfer the money in the form of grants that would not require the additional legwork of federal reporting measures.

“That doesn’t mean the county doesn’t want to have reports,” Fauver said, but the oversight wouldn’t need to go through the federal government.

Although Fauver’s plan calls for conducting surveys to assess needs in January or February 2022, such surveys are not without pitfalls, especially when done online.

“One of the previous events that we have had here before is that when we do online polls we have interest groups that come and weigh in droves,” said Commissioner Gary Eichelberger, turning the allocations into a lobbying issue.

Additionally, Fauver said, “one of the things I know about online surveys is that they tend to get a higher response rate from higher income, more educated people. , that’s just the reality. “

Any assessment of ARPA cash needs should include targeted outreach to disadvantaged communities, possibly through nonprofits or other means, Fauver said.

The outline for the fundraising groups presented on Wednesday is “intended as a guiding document,” Fauver said, and may be changed as applications and requests for funding begin to arrive next year.

Email Zack at [email protected]