Stimulus Check Update: Spokane County Is Looking at a $43.3 Million Stimulus Funds Spending List

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(The Square in the Middle) – Spokane County will shortly spend nearly all of the $101 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) cash it has received.

The county has received half of its federal funds and is preparing to disburse millions of dollars in ARP funds for initiatives that enhance the economy, society, or infrastructure.

On Monday, Commissioners Mary Kuney, Josh Kerns, and Al French were presented with a draught list of subcategories eligible for funding by Jeff McMorris, community engagement and policy advisor.

The subcategories, he claimed, comply with 43 pages of new Treasury Department regulation. That agency is in charge of overseeing the spending of a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus program passed by Congress in the spring of 2021.

Five broad funding categories have been assigned to local governments. Public health, economic assistance to households and businesses, services to disproportionately impacted communities, premium pay for essential workers, broadband/water/sewer infrastructure, and revenue replacement are among these priorities.

According to McMorris, at the March 7 meeting, the subcategories further define spending in the five areas and set an overall money figure.

He discussed the revenue replacement side of ARP funding before going over the details of the list.

Stimulus Check & Spokane County & ARP funding
Stimulus Check Update: Spokane County Is Looking at a $43.3 Million Stimulus Funds Spending List

According to McMorris, a precise formula was used to calculate lost sales taxes and other income due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Spokane County may reclaim $9.38 million in damages in 2020 if the formula is followed.

He suggested that funds be taken from the existing ARP account and placed in the general fund for discretionary use. This money is not restricted in the same way that other ARP monies are, but it can’t be used for jail activities.

According to McMorris, because the county sold a racetrack to the Kalispel Tribe in 2021, general fund revenue had increased enough to cut the ARP reimbursement to around $3 million for that year.

In 2022 and 2023, the last year for these claims, he expects the ARP reimbursement funding level to recover to around $9 million.

Federal officials have also advised the county to set aside a portion of the funds in case of an emergency. Governments, on the other hand, must decide how to spend their ARP allocations by the end of 2024, and the funds must be spent by the end of 2026, according to McMorris.

McMorris observed that $2 million for administrative and service delivery was likely a one-time cost on the revised list of expenditure categories. He claimed the money would go toward the legal study of ARP applications, updating the county’s website regularly to provide transparency about how the money was used and staff time.

Nearly $3.5 million was set aside for public health requirements, which included mental health issues related to the pandemic’s lockdowns, isolation, and other aftereffects.

According to McMorris, a lack of housing had a negative economic impact on the county’s towns, so $4.5 million was allocated to affordable housing.

Another $5 million was allocated to educational inequity, including the provision of social and emotional supports.

Nonprofits that fill service delivery gaps in local areas could compete for $750,000.

Stimulus Check & Spokane County & Nonprofits that fill
Stimulus Check Update: Spokane County Is Looking at a $43.3 Million Stimulus Funds Spending List

Stormwater improvements will receive $5.5 million, water conservation will receive $2 million, drinking water updates will receive $4 million, water storage will receive $500,000, water and sewer system repair and maintenance will receive $2 million, and the local match of federal broadband access dollars will receive $5 million.

The panel agreed that McMorris could make a few minor changes to the list and present it to them the next day for approval.

Official Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for each subcategory will be prepared once the list was approved, he said. He stated that the intention was to have RFPs posted on the county’s website, where any community business or organization may apply.

He stated that an RFP Selection Committee would be formed to assess proposals that were determined to fit ARP criteria by a legal examination. He added there would be a scoring system to help with the approval process.

He stated that decision-making would involve a public procedure, and that funding would most likely not be provided until later in the spring.

According to McMorris, the second pot of ARP funds for the county to disperse should come in May.

French inquired as to whether funds may be given to Airway Heights and Medical Lake to supplement grant money for infrastructure projects.

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According to McMorris, ARP’s phrasing gave the commission freedom over how cash was dispersed, thus the list of subcategories may be changed as needed.

Continuing community engagement, he said, as a condition of ARP choices. To that aim, he stated that the county had received 15,000 replies to a poll conducted last fall in which residents were asked how they wanted money spent across five broad areas.

According to him, a new poll requested particular projects to fund, as well as the population segment they would serve and the benefits they would give.  www.spokanecounty.org/arp is where you can find the new survey.

Although infrastructure financing would most likely go to a government body, McMorris noted ARP cash can be utilized for projects already being done by other entities.

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