Where’s the money, and how much is left? A breakdown of Warren County’s ARPA allocations

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Warren County Board of Supervisors received $8.8 million from ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) in 2021, and as of August 2023, a little more than $3.5 million remains unallocated.

ARPA funds must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent By Dec. 31, 2026. So, where has the money gone? And what will be done with the rest of it?

“Since receiving our allocation of ARPA funds, we discuss on an ongoing basis potential projects, especially those that would require a large capital investment, and some of which we have long wanted to do, but it was quite expensive,” said Board President Kelle Barfield. “An example of one of those is the digitizing of records in the Chancery and Circuit Clerks’ offices, which will go a long way for people wanting to do research. They will be able to access files that are centuries old without damaging the documents.”

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Part of the stipulations for the use of ARPA funds are diligent record keeping. Requests must be vetted appropriately and, after funds are allocated, the ways in which those funds are used must be reported to the county in an accurate and timely manner. As an added measure, audits are conducted on funding allocations of $75,000 or more.

Warren County has broken down its ARPA allocations into two main categories: community partners and county expenditures. Within those categories are numerous subcategories aligned with the purpose of ARPA, including youth services, workforce development, housing and tourism.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury states that ARPA funds can be used to meet the following needs identified following the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Revenue replacement 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 fiscal year prior to the emergency.
  • COVID-19 expenditures or negative economic impacts of COVID-19, including assistance to small businesses, households and hard-hit industries, and economic recovery.
  • Premium pay for essential workers.
  • Investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

Community Partner Allocations

Warren County has allocated $898,725 of its ARPA funds to community partners. Of that total, $808,325 has been expensed and $90,400 remains obligated.

The community partner receiving the most funds, as of August, is the United Way of West Central Mississippi, which received $266,900 earmarked for personnel and supplies. Second to the United Way is Historic Bethel AME Church, which received $150,000 from the county for ADA accessibility improvements to its building.

A total of 22 community partners have received ARPA funds from the county, and the average allocation is $40,851.14.

“In 2021, (the Supervisors) invited community partners to propose projects to us,” Barfield said. “That was a one-time opportunity, but about 20 percent of what has been allocated went to non-profit organizations in the community, primarily as it concerns youth services.”

County Project Allocations

The Board of Supervisors has earmarked ARPA funds for 10 county projects, ranging from facilities improvements to paving to administrative and IT needs.

A total of $4,238,774.34 has been allocated for county projects. Of that total, $1,970,692.34 has been expensed and $2,268,082 remains obligated.

The county project receiving the most funds, as of August, is the Warren County Paving Program, which received $2 million. The program is designed to repair and resurface existing paved roads in the county and to place DBST overlays on unpaved roads.

Last month, the Clear Creek Golf Course clubhouse project became the recipient of the second-highest amount of county funds at $750,000. Warren County Emergency Services received the third-highest amount in the form of a $500,000 fire truck grant. However, that $500,000 has not yet been expensed.

The average allocation for county projects is $423,877.43.

ARPA Deadlines Looming

Barfield said the county plans to obligate and use all its funds by the deadlines set by the federal government.

And, she said, there’s a method to the way the Supervisors have treated county ARPA funds.

“We’ll continue to look at county infrastructure needs like roofs and HVAC, and also opportunities like the digitizing of records and the Clear Creek clubhouse,” she said. “There are also unexpected needs that arise as well. We’ve seen that this year. We’re trying to be deliberate about not making decisions a lot sooner than we have to and then later realizing there is a greater need elsewhere.”

Another example Barfield provided is the Vicksburg-Warren Youth Development Center, which opened its doors in June.

While there will not be another opportunity for community organizations to apply for ARPA funds the way organizations could in 2021, she said the careful direction of funds to established organizations will create the greatest impact on the community.

“When we did the invitation in 2021 to hear proposals, so many organizations were concerned about the youth in Warren County, either ramping up programs or creating them from scratch,” Barfield said. “A development this year is the Youth Development Center. What we’ll do instead of funding new programs is work with (YDC Director) Dr. Susie Calbert and the YDC, and the support that these non-profits will get from the YDC will be the result of county funding.”

Click here for a full breakdown of Warren County’s ARPA spending as of July 19.

Please note: The table does not include the $750,000 in ARPA funds obligated for a new clubhouse and renovations at Clear Creek Golf Course. Totals depicted in this story do include the additional $750,000.