During a Board of County Commissioners work session on February 22, 2022, Budget and Finance Director Janae Stanworth outlined the final rule from the U.S. Treasury Department regarding acceptable uses for American Rescue Plan Recovery funds. The final rule was announced in early 2022 and must be followed for Rio Blanco County’s $1.2 million allocation.
According to the Treasury, the final rule:
Expands the list of uses "recipients can use to respond to COVID-19 and its economic impacts – ensuring states and localities can adapt quickly and nimbly to changing public health and economic needs."
Expands "support for public sector hiring and capacity."
Streamlines "options to provide premium pay for essential workers."
Broadens "eligible water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure projects."
Simplifies "the program for small localities ... including through the option to elect a standard allowance for revenue loss rather than calculating revenue loss through the full formula."
Rio Blanco County Commissioners had previously agreed to allocate a portion of these funds to a full-time Department of Human Services Eligibility Technician; this position has been filled. Stanworth advised the Board of County Commissioners that approximately $1 million remains and must be obligated by 2024. During the work session, with members of the public and county representation from departments, various ideas were discussed including but not limited to: broadband, software upgrades and water systems. The group had discussions regarding the use of funds outside of the municipalities since both towns have been allocated funds as well, however it was recognized that both “towns have big needs.” Commissioner Moyer added. “I believe we need to send this out and ask for requests so that all the groups that are eligible get a chance to share with us what their needs are before we prioritize.” Rio Blanco County Commissioners will continue to look closely at the rules and potential projects and future discussions regarding the American Rescue Plan Recovery allocation will be planned.