Springfield, Clark County receive first half of millions in American Rescue Plan money

Springfield and Clark County have received their first allocations of funding from the American Rescue Plan giving those municipalities millions of dollars to invest in programs that can help offset the impacts of the pandemic.

Springfield has received half of the $44.2 million that will be allocated by the federal government as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

The governing body of Clark County has also received half of a planned allocation of $26 million.

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Both governments will receive the rest of that money in June 2022. They will have until the end of 2024 to allocate money for projects and expenditures.

The deadline to spend that money is December 2026.

Local officials have been engaged in conversations on how to spend the money as they navigate initial guidance released by the federal government.

“At the end of the day our goal is to utilize these funds in a manner that has a long lasting impact on the Springfield community,” said Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck.

Bryan Heck
Bryan Heck

Heck said that could include allocating some of the money to programs that address issues such as a spike in homelessness that was seen last year in the city amid the pandemic.

That would involve looking at what could be done within the guidelines on how the federal money can be spent to help alleviate some of the long lasting housing issues in the city, Heck said.

Initial guidance related to the spending of those relief funds are similar to the CARES Act, approved in 2020, which aimed to provide relief as many municipalities were feeling the weight of the pandemic.

CARES Act funding focused on expenditures that municipalities faced that were directly caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The American Rescue Plan expanded on what some of the new funding can be used on.

In addition to replacing lost public sector revenue and helping workers, small businesses and affected industries, governments receiving those funds can also use the money to invest in water, sewer and broadband systems, according to guidance released by the Treasury Department.

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However, final guidance is expected to be released in August, said Heck who is hoping that will provide additional flexibility on how those funds can be spent.

For Clark County government, a team has been put together by the County Commission to research and understand the rules and regulations regarding American Rescue Plan money.

Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said they are working to balance what they want to spend the money on versus what is allowed. That includes looking at ways to recoup some lost revenue from last year as well as investing in infrastructure.

Rick Lohnes
Rick Lohnes

But it also means funding projects that would expand broadband as well as add some technological upgrades to government buildings.

Money could also be used to fund programs that focus on drug addiction recovery and mental health services helping those at the county jail.

It could also be used to help offset some of the costs of a new combined 911 dispatch center that will open in October.

Lohnes said once that work is completed, projects proposed would then need to be approved by the Clark County Commission.

By the numbers:

$44.2M - amount City of Springfield will receive from American Rescue Plan

$26M - amount Clark County government will receive from American Rescue Plan

$1.9T- Total amount of federal American Rescue Plan