County Commission Approves Reallocation of ARPA Funds

County Commission Approves Reallocation of ARPA Funds

At Tuesday's County Commission Meeting, Commissioners heard a request for action from the County Administration, regarding the reallocation of ARPA funds.

Request for Action On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law. Among many other provisions, ARPA provides direct funding to each county in the United States through what is called the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Relief Fund (CLFRF). For Saline County, this amount is $10,532,376. Saline County Commissioners adopted an initial framework for expenditure of these funds on August 31, 2021, and have since made numerous revisions to that plan – most recently on May 16, 2023.

Pursuant to the Framework Plan, substantial funding was set aside for Business & NonProfit Recovery efforts. One of the specific agreements for funding under this category, approved by Commissioners on February 7, 2023, provides funding to the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce for two projects: a retail and eatery incubator space, and an API to host job listings directly on the Imagine Salina website rather than redirecting users to a third-party site such as Indeed. On June 14, the Chamber notified the County that they had not been able to find a suitable space for the incubator and would need to terminate that portion of the agreement.

The County’s ARPA consultants have prepared the attached addendum to allow for the API project to move forward without the incubator space. Staff recommends that the Commission approve it by signature.

Termination of the incubator project will leave $250,000 in CLFRF funding available for reallocation. While there are a few small projects where the Chamber could use funding, there is not another project within the Business & Non-Profit Recovery category of sufficient scope to use the bulk of these funds. Although the County could go out and solicit new projects for Business & Non-Profit Recovery, projects have already been proposed but not funded in several other categories including Housing, Workforce Development, Poverty Reduction and Public Safety. These include:

  • Security Screening for the Remainder of 2023
  • Rehabilitation of New Space for Salina Grace
  • Additional Funding for Courtroom Remodel
  • Grant Program for Fire District Facilities (up to $500,000)
  • University Housing
  • Medical Residency Housing Rehab
  • Food Policy Council

The reasoning for this order is that 1) the Commission has tentatively included funding for security screeners in the 2024 budget but County Attorney staff are physically moved onto the first floor already, 2) the County was not able to accommodate the full ongoing request for Salina Grace in the 2024 budget so a one-time allocation would assist them, 3) using additional funds for the courtrooms would free up County Capital Improvement dollars to be used on other projects, 4) at least two fire districts are needing funding for facilities and no previous CLFRF has been spent on fire service but this program is not likely to benefit all fire services throughout the community, 5) increased university housing would benefit the community at large by freeing up rentals but the universities also have other fundraising options, 6) improving housing for medical residents would help attract/retain a segment of the workforce not targeted by previous programs but again the residency program could raise funds through other sources, and 7) a food policy council has been previously organized through the North Central Regional Planning Commission and disbanded after achieving limited success.

If the Commission approved this order, the recommendation for the current $250,000 would be to reserve $19,000 for remaining small projects with the Chamber of Commerce and “check off” items 1 and 2 on the priority list to use the remaining funds. Items 3 through 7 would be in line for any future funds.

Budget Impact

Pursuant to State law, expenditures of CLFRF are not subject to the County’s adopted budget. However, each of the proposed programs will only be brought forward in agreement form when and to the extent they can be accommodated within available funding.

The motion to approve the allocation of $19,000 to the Chamber, the security screening for the remainder of 2023, and additional for the courtroom remodel as action for today, with the future priority list as a grant program for fire district facilities, rehab of new space for Salina Grace, University Housing, was approved 4-0. Commissioner Vidricksen had recused himself.

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