Local city and county governments are anticipating over $10 million in additional federal aid this year and next, but most local leaders said they’re still in the dark about when the funding …
Local city and county governments are anticipating over $10 million in additional federal aid this year and next, but most local leaders said they’re still in the dark about when the funding will come or what it will be used for.
The funding is part of the massive $1.8 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) approved by Congress in March. It is intended to address the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, and most other parts of life. That broad mission, and the way funds are being distributed, have left some local leaders waiting for more information.
Unlike last year’s federal CARES Act, funding from ARPA has been allotted to governments at both the county and city level, rather than just the county. But while county governments are receiving disbursements directly from the federal treasury, funding for small towns was given to the state government for distribution based on population.
Funding at both levels is intended to come in two parts, half this year and half in 2022. Local governments then have several years to put that funding to use.
The Warren County government has already received the first half of its allotment of about $6.9 million. Members of the Warren County Commission said they’re meeting with a volunteer advisory committee to begin discussing potential uses for the $3.4 million the county has thus far received.
“It’s going to be a slow process,” commented Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus. “We’re not going to jump into this and spend $3.4 million in a week.”
While the county has some potential projects that could fall within federal guidelines for how the money is spent, commissioners said funding could also eventually become available for other local organizations to apply for. The exact criteria for that funding aid is under development.
Commissioner Matt Flake added that the commission is keeping an open mind to what needs might be present in the community.
“The county’s got some projects that we need to discuss if we’re going to spend some of the money on, but we want to give everybody some consideration when they ask for some money. We’re not going to blow it all on one project,” Flake commented.
Meanwhile, the city and village governments of Warren County are still waiting to find out when they’ll actually receive their portions of the federal ARPA funding. Multiple city leaders told The Record that the Missouri Treasurer’s Office has yet to release information about when the funding will be distributed, nor has it provided complete guidance on how it expects local towns to use that funding, local leaders said.
Cities and villages in Warren County will receive a combined $3.2 million, according to estimates from the Missouri Municipal League. Estimates for individual towns are below:
Local city leaders said they won’t go into much planning for the funding until they actually receive it.
“They’re still writing the rules on how that money can be used. We’re waiting to see,” commented Wright City Administrator Jim Schuchmann.
Other municipalities contacted by The Record provided a similar response — uncertainty over the rules and timing for the funding, other than that there should be one disbursement this year, and one in 2022.
“I have not heard from the state on when it will be distributed,” said Warrenton City Administrator Brandie Walters. “At one time it was late June, then moved to July, and now we are not sure when.”