Warren County Supervisors discuss first round of ARPA recipients

Published 9:29 am Friday, December 3, 2021

The Warren County Board of Supervisors has opened consideration for the more than 75 American Rescue Plan Act funding requests following a series of October public meetings.

During a Nov. 22 work session, the board was presented with 32 proposals that were recommended to be denied ARPA funds. The county received $8.8 million as part of the act, and has until 2024 to allocate the funds. While the number of potential denials amounted to a third of all submissions, District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield explained the rejections are not the end of the road for many applicants.

“Last Monday, we made an initial round and had discussions about those (applicants) we felt were out of the bounds of how those ARPA funds should be used,” Barfield said.

The issue for many applicants, including Warren County departments, is that their requests were not eligible for ARPA funding but might be eligible to receive funding through other venues. According to the board, ARPA funds are meant to prevent or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the community. Infrastructure projects, for example, are not covered by ARPA but will be covered under the recently passed federal infrastructure bill.

Categories that are eligible for ARPA funds include health care, housing, youth and social services and tourism.

Instead of keeping denied applicants waiting in vain for ARPA funding, Barfield said the board wanted to leave ample opportunity to apply for other funding programs. In the case of many proposals, the board was not rejecting the projects themselves, but rather rejecting the use of ARPA funding to support them.

“For those who we felt like ARPA was not appropriate, it was in their best interest to communicate that so they can seek alternative funding,” she said. “That’s why we did that first pass, for suitability and to let people know.”

ARPA funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026. The board is responsible for money distributed and all the funds must be accounted for over the duration of their use.