Miami County considering how to use $21M in federal stimulus funds

The Miami County Courthouse in Troy seen from the air as contractors prepare to paint the corner domes.   TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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The Miami County Courthouse in Troy seen from the air as contractors prepare to paint the corner domes. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

TROY – The Miami County commissioners are collecting information on the possible uses of nearly $21 million in American Rescue Plan fiscal recovery funds.

An initial report on the allowed categories for use of the funds and preliminary ideas for distribution were shared with commissioners in late October by a staff ARPA committee working on the plan.

The committee includes county Administrator Charlotte Colley, Development Director Rich Osgood and county ARPA Manager Gary Link.

There are four categories for use of the ARPA dollars: public health and economic impacts; premium pay; revenue loss; and investments in infrastructure. Infrastructure specifically identified in program information include water and sewer and broadband.

The biggest challenge will be how to best use the money, Colley said.

“Eligibility requirements are pretty strict,” Osgood said, sharing with commissioners a possible flow chart for eligible recipients and types of acceptable uses of the funding.

Colley also emphasized that the information on the chart was a draft.

The commissioners suggested setting aside a percentage of the money for nonprofits and small businesses.

“I think we owe that to small businesses and the nonprofits,” Simmons said suggesting using up to $1 million for that purpose.

Commissioner Ted Mercer suggested the county include one or two community representatives in an advisory role for the committee.

“We want to do this right. It is going to take some time and some planning,” Mercer said. “I think if we can slice off a small piece of the pie …”

Link as the temporary full-time project manager will oversee the planning for and use of the money. He was hired by the commission Sept. 2 The contract is until the end of this year with an option for an extension as the commissioners see where the ARPA program goes, Colley said.

The county has received $10.4 million in ARPA funds in 2021 and anticipates another $10.4 million next year.

The commissioners have attended a state program with possible projects including water and sewer improvements and update projects at some county facilities’ air condition/heating systems. Projects at the county Fairgrounds and the historic county Courthouse have been among those discussed by commissioners.

“We will have somebody who will be in charge of these construction-type projects. We are looking at a lot of things. It is going to be busy the next two or three years,” Commission President Greg Simmons said.

The project manager position will be critical as the county works through the ARPA rules, decisions on use of the money and then helping recipient departments complete projects, Colley said.

The position will last as long as the ARPA funds are being utilized, perhaps up to four years, Colley said.

The committee may request approval to use a consultant to help ensure compliance with federal grant/reporting requirements, Colley said.

She noted that the county auditor’s office said a consultant might be useful because the auditor’s staff doesn’t work regularly with the federal requirements accompanying the recovery funds.

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