Rescue plan

Cuyahoga County to spend more than $27 million in US bailout funds

Cuyahoga County has a plan for spending plans for its first round of US federal funds from the US Bailout Act.

County Executive Armond Budish released a distribution plan for more than $27 million on Wednesday (March 16). The plan includes increased spending on workforce development, brownfield remediation and cybersecurity upgrades.

“For nearly a year, we have carefully studied the law, spoken to experts and learned from our colleagues across the country how the funds can be used legally,” Budish said in a video announcement about the plan.

Nearly $240 million in federal pandemic funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, known as ARPA, has been earmarked for Cuyahoga County and, as Budish explained, has not not been allocated to the general county budget.

The goal in spending the “first tranche” of funds is “to balance today’s needs with tomorrow’s goals”, he added.

Cuyahoga County created a website to solicit ideas on the best ways to spend ARPA funding. Budish said there were 500 submissions. Ideas from residents were added to ideas from advisory groups led by leaders in business, civics and nonprofits, he added.

“The community response has been overwhelming,” Budish said. “It’s been an extremely collaborative process.”

The fledgling plan is flexible, Budish said, adding that at least $50 million will be set aside for the next county executive and Cuyahoga County council members, who will serve after elections in November. Budish is not running for another term.

The county’s first round of ARPA spending proposals include the following:

• The Greater Cleveland Food Bank, $5 million for facility expansion;

• Cuyahoga County Board of Health, $1.5 million for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing;

• $150,000 for two temporary grant writing positions to bring in more state and federal funding;

• Incentive Vaccination Plan for County Inmates, over $500,000;

• Preparation and storage of personal protective equipment, $750,000;

• Emergency placement for young people, at least $1 million set aside with a tender to be published;

• IT capital improvements, over $4.3 million for cybersecurity upgrades and system enhancements;

• Laptop Management Program, $75,000;

• Cybersecurity, hacking protection, $53,000;

• County Personnel Review Board Remote Testing for Civil Service Positions, $75,000 for testing and monitoring software;

• Brownfields Remediation, $5 million to clean up the land and turn it into job-creating spaces and to help with a state matching program; and

• Labour, $9 million to help provide an additional $9 million in matching funds for existing labor sector partnership programs.

More details on each of the plans will be presented to the county council in the coming weeks, Budish said.