During a recent session of the County Commission, Commissioners engaged in discussions surrounding the progress and reallocation of funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Enacted on March 11, 2021, the ARPA allocates direct funding to every county in the United States through the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFRF). Saline County received a total of $10,532,376. The county initially adopted a spending plan for CLFRF on August 31, 2021, following a public input process. This plan has undergone multiple revisions as projects were added, removed, or modified.
In July 2023, the Commission identified "backup" projects that could substitute for those failing to materialize or coming in under budget. The list of backup projects has evolved, and during a Concept Discussion on December 12, the Commission explored revising the list to align with current priorities. Staff was instructed to present an item emphasizing projects with the potential to position the County for future success and cost savings.
Three projects with a small blue bar in the "under review" column are currently active or in progress. The Capital Improvements for Non-Profits Grant to CAPS is complete, with just over $987 in unspent funds. It is recommended that $210 of this amount be transferred to Small Expenses, including Promotion, which is slightly over budget but also completed. The remainder is suggested for allocation to the Courtroom Remodel.
On November 21, $1,011,175 became available for reallocation due to the cancellation of the housing project with the City of Salina and other changes. $500,000 of this amount was previously reallocated to Fire District grants. The remaining funds are proposed to be distributed as follows:
- "Top up" additional funds for the Courtroom Remodel to cover final construction bills and prevent dipping into County funds.
- Allocate funds for Utility costs related to facility transitions in 2024, addressing unforeseen budget gaps.
- Add an ambulance to the EMS fleet at an estimated cost of $390,000, with potential savings from the 2024 ambulance budget.
- Fund a joint study of downtown campus facilities, potentially freeing up resources from the Capital Improvement Fund.
- Consider air service incentives for RON flight separately, with a fallback option of Simpson Road Improvements if the incentive is not approved.
Expenditures of CLFRF are not subject to the County's adopted budget per State law, and sufficient funds are available for the recommended reallocations. The motion for approval passed unanimously, 5-0.