On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law. ARPA includes many types of funds to help individuals, businesses, and local governments. One is the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) that address the needs presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as prepare the country for a more resilient future.
The SLFRF have five categories of eligible uses:
- Support the public health response.
- Address negative economic impacts.
- Replace lost public sector revenue.
- Provide premium pay for essential workers.
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Counties and cities have until the end of 2024 to obligate these funds and the end of 2026 to spend them. Given the timeline, some jurisdictions are taking their time deciding how the money will best be used in their communities.
Of the cities and counties that have already expended portions of SLFRF, there are many notable projects:
Webster County purchased property for the very first county park, giving residents a new outdoor space to gather and play. It will offer outdoor recreation opportunities and ways for the community to stay healthy and active. Work on the park is ongoing.
Hancock County allocated funds for a new P25 radio system to increase the capabilities of police, fire, and EMS services by improving service areas for more reliable communication.
The City of Corydon built new bathrooms at the park. These additions can extend recreation opportunities to residents.
Henderson County awarded Henderson Community College $500,000 to supplement workforce training and trade skills certificate programs. This award will help prepare the workforce for work in the essential jobs that continued operation throughout the pandemic.
The City of Island provided premium pay to all essential city workers for their work throughout the pandemic.
The City of Owensboro is making upgrades to Cravens Pool, which closed in 2020 due to pandemic protocols and has remained closed due to structural and mechanical issues. Owensboro is also using funds to make drainage improvements on the west side of the city to eliminate or decrease flooding issues.
The City of Whitesville purchased a new mower for use at the city park.
Ohio County awarded grants to small businesses around the area. The county also funded repairs at the local food pantry.
The City of Morganfield is investing in new playground equipment at Dunbar Park so children can have a safer place to play outside.
Many cities and counties chose to use the SLFRF to supplement Cleaner Water projects, allowing them to take on larger and more impactful projects that would not be possible otherwise. ARPA as a whole played a crucial role in upgrading water and
sewer systems, as well as so many other aspects of the GRADD communities, so that they can serve residents for decades to come.