Where has ARPA funding gone? A look at how municipal entities are spending federal dollars

Published 9:15 am Friday, December 30, 2022

Jessamine County, Nicholasville, and Wilmore received federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in May 2021 and May 2022 for COVID recovery.

What is ARPA?

ARPA was created by the Biden administration and signed into law on March 11, 2021. This $1.9 trillion act provided funding for multiple COVID relief plans, with $350 billion divided between cities and states.

Email newsletter signup

The state fund is $195 billion, with $25.5 Billion to disperse among 50 states. The rest of that $169.5 billion is distributed to states using a formula based on the state’s unemployment rates.

The local fund (for cities and counties) is $130.2 billion and is separate from the State Allocations. Cities and counties receive ARPA funding separately. $65 million is dispersed between cities, and about $45.6 million is distributed among counties. The remaining $19.53 billion is allocated to support local government non-entitlement units (NEUs). NEUs are local governments that serve populations of less than 50,000.

How can these funds be used?

ARPA funding must go towards one of the following sectors: aid for communities most impacted by COVID, infrastructure, public health, or revenue replacement for governments (this means this funding can go towards any government function).

This money must be allocated by December 2024 and spent by December 2026.

Jessamine County

Jessamine County received $10,511,204 in ARPA funding. Judge-Executive David West said that although this is a tremendous amount, “It’s one-time money, so we would rather this be spent on one-time projects instead of expenses that would recur each year.”

• $105,112 was allocated to pay Jessamine County’s ARPA administrator with Bluegrass Area Development District (BGADD). The ARPA administrator assists the county with allocating ARPA funds and ensures local governments follow the federal government’s guidelines. The BGADD was created in 1956 as an extension of the federal government. It handles workforce services, senior services, and general government support. Fifty percent of this allocation has been spent.

• $55,000 was allocated to purchase a new boat for water rescue operations. Completion was not stated.

• $33,352 was allocated for a gravel lot at the City/County Park to expand parking for the baseball field.

• $275,323.06 was allocated for COVID premium pay for eligible government employees: General government, jail, road, Emergency Medical Services, child support, Sheriff’s office, and the County Clerk’s office. Eligibility was determined based on which employees could not perform job duties from home and whose jobs required face-to-face interactions with the public. Full-time employees were eligible for a $1,000 payment, and part-time workers were suitable for $500. Two hundred twenty-nine workers received premium pay. This allocation has been completely spent.

The total allocation from the list above is $468,787.06.

The Jessamine County Fiscal Court invested $8 million of the ARPA funds in Treasury Bills, which are investments sold by the federal government. It is rare for Treasury Bills to be an acceptable usage of federal funds, so Judge Executive West calls this a “rare opportunity.”

To be able to access this $8 million, the Fiscal Court worked with its financial advisor, Ross Sinclaire Associates (RSA), to receive scheduled payouts in three months, six months and 12 months.

Judge Executive David West said the remaining funds that will incur value from the county’s investments would fund public safety, recreational facilities, and rural broadband.

Nicholasville

The city of Nicholasville received $8,132,444.64.

• $4,000,000 was allocated to the construction of a new community/recreation center.

• $1,000,000 was allocated toward completing the turf field at Preece Park. The city considers this the first step of the community center’s development.

• $250,000 was allocated to aquatics center repairs

• $1,000,000 was allocated to repairs and updates for existing parks and the Lake Mingo splash pad.

• $100,000 was allocated to the construction of a cemetery walking trail.

• $500,000 was allocated to downtown revitalization grants.

• $400,000 was allocated towards installing a blacktop into the JCYB parking lot.

Nicholasville’s remaining ARPA balance is $382,444.64.

Wilmore

Wilmore received $1,252,591.21

• $200,000 was allocated to further restoration of the 100-year-old Brumfield Hay and Grain Building. In 2020, Wilmore received $500k from a community development block grant and was able to repair the building’s roof. Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater told the Journal in 2020 that the granary building would become a community center of an office building upon completion. Mayor Rainwater said that Wilmore recently applied for a $750k community development block grant to start phase two. This will include repairing door and window openings and any holes in the building so that the building’s integrity is maintained throughout the winter months.

• $250,000 was allocated to funding improvements to Wilmore’s downtown. This project is in the planning phase with the Bluegrass Area Development District to create a request for a proposal. Mayor Rainwater said this project has grown larger than simply fixing lights, electricity, and sidewalks downtown. The city of Wilmore will be applying for another -$500k transportation enhancement grant. After the first of the year, Wilmore city council can choose from different proposals from construction companies and architects to complete the project.

• $550,000 was allocated to the purchase of a new fire truck.

• $150,000 was allocated to the purchase of three new police cars.

• $100,000 was allocated towards improvements to the rear parking lot at Wilmore’s municipal center. The construction for this will start in the spring.

Wilmore currently has $2,590.21 left to spend by December 2024. However, there has yet to be a plan for how the city of Wilmore will spend its remaining ARPA funds.