GUIZERIX: Warren County is diligent with its ARPA distributions

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Warren County Board of Supervisors is taking its sweet time when it comes to awarding American Relief Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

While applicants may be getting antsy to receive their piece of the ARPA pie, the board should be commended for its diligence in the allotment of funds. Many counties around the state are using ARPA funds to pay off outstanding debts or settle routine expenses.

Warren County’s leadership, on the other hand, is working hard to ensure ARPA funds directly benefit residents through a variety of initiatives and programs.

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The awards process began with a series of public forums in each of the county’s five districts, where interested parties could ask questions and get answers for how they could access ARPA funds for their projects. Applicants had to attend these meetings and submit their applications at the end of the forum.

There are nine categories being considered by the Board of Supervisors: infrastructure, workforce, youth services, social service, health care, housing, tourism, restaurants and small business/other. From tutoring services to food banks to mentorship programs to building repairs and coronavirus education, the board of supervisors has discussed each applicant at length.

The process doesn’t end with the award of funding, either. While it would be nice for the government to simply hand out checks left and right to anyone who asks for it, that’s not the case with ARPA.

Once funds are awarded, the county must keep thorough records for how the money is used, and hold recipients accountable to make sure they’re using the funds for their intended purpose. It’s also taken time for the board to determine the best way to keep those records as funds are distributed.

It’s often been said in supervisor meetings and beyond, that ARPA funds are a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to make a real difference for small communities across the country.

As such, it’s up to our Board of Supervisors to ensure they distribute the more than $8 million awarded to Warren County as responsibly as possible. Through its discussions, the board is demonstrating that it takes this task very seriously.

For them, it’s not a matter of settling the books — it’s about long-lasting community improvements. Where the county’s ARPA funds can’t be used, board members are getting the wheels turning for groups and organizations to apply for state ARPA funds or other grants to get the job done.

While it’s taking a while to get ARPA funds distributed, constituents need to remember two things: first, that the board has three years to distribute the funds, and second, that the goal is to be good stewards of the money, which means it will be worth the wait.