County Commission moves forward with ARPA funds awards

The Cole County Commission is informing entities they have chosen to receive federal American Rescue Plan Act funds that they will have to get the proper paperwork back to the commission to get their money.

At a meeting Thursday, commissioners went through a priority list they had come up with and decided to send letters with agreements to the following agencies:

• Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson City — $300,000 for work on their new west end site on Charm Villa Drive.

• Special Learning Center — $100,000 to help on the expansion of the center.

• City of Russellville — $50,000 to help with wastewater system improvements and $50,000 for a park improvement project.

• City of Taos — $50,000 to help with construction of a new city hall.

• Cole County Fire Protection District — $500,000 for new self-contained breathing apparatuses.

• Cole County Volunteer First Medical Responders — $133,290 for communication upgrades.

• Council for Drug Free Youth — $25,000 for substance use prevention programs and $50,000 for programs to help prevent suicides in Cole County schools.

• Jefferson City Rape and Abuse Crisis Service — $50,000 for an improvement project at their facility.

• Lincoln University — $1 million for a new health and science center.

• Missouri River Regional Library — $75,000 for outreach services.

• Osage Fire Protection District — $146,201 for communication upgrades and $25,000 for their capital infrastructure plans.

• River City Habitat for Humanity — $10,000 for Habitat home builds.

• Russellville/Lohman Fire Protection District — $75,000 for a compressor fill station.

• Village of Centertown — $50,000 to help with their wastewater improvement project.

• Jefferson City — $300,000 to help with construction of a new fire tower at the fire department’s Hyde Park training facility.

• St. Thomas the Apostle Parish — $50,000 for light upgrades at their ball field.

• Taos Knights of Columbus Community Club — $50,000 for their ballpark light replacement project.

• Jefferson City Salvation Army — $100,000 for homeless shelter improvements.

• United Capital City Soccer Club — $250,000 for their plans to build a soccer complex off of Christy Drive.

Commissioners went through 52 applications that were sent to their office, totaling $37 million in desired funding. The county only had $15 million in APRA funds given to it to address COVID-19 related needs. The commission’s APRA advisors — FORBIS, LLC out of Springfield — also went through the applications to help determine whether or not the applicants qualified for funding.

The county’s ARPA funds can be used for internal needs of county government, as well as projects benefiting health care, nonprofits (which could include religious organizations), businesses in the county and political subdivisions (which could include water districts, fire protection districts and school districts).

The commission said only Lincoln got the full amount it requested. Because of this, it was possible these entities might come back to the commission saying they may not be able to use the money because they needed the full amount they asked for and not just a portion. That would free up more ARPA money that could be used for other projects.

The entities getting the ARPA funds have 30 days from when they get their letters to send back the proper paperwork to the county or to notify it they would not be taking the money.

Last month, the commission approved ARPA funds to pay for new mobile radios to improve emergency responder radio equipment, along with money for the sheriff’s department to pay for Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses. The total for all this was $712,861.

The commission earlier designated ARPA funds for county needs, such as $1.2 million for software upgrades to the Cole County Emergency Medical Services, the purchase of 11 new ventilators for ambulances at a cost of $200,600, and a request from Sheriff John Wheeler to use $70,000 in ARPA funds to pay for scholarships for members of his department to be able to go to law enforcement academy training.

The commission also approved $1.5 million to give premium pay to county staff who have had to face hazards while working during the pandemic.

However, commissioners decided to discontinue that at the end of June, with the county paying $625,235 in premium pay. That leaves $874,764 to use if COVID-19 numbers rise and the commission reinstates the pay policy. The unused money can be redirected to other COVID-19-related expenses.

The commission did approve using ARPA money to pay the $611,000 contract for FORVIS to be their advisors. The contract covers the five years of the ARPA process, but as of this week only $4,750 dollars of that amount has been used. Commissioners have said they don’t believe they’ll use that entire amount and what’s left could be used for other COVID matters.

ARPA rules require projects that get funds to be ready to go by the end of 2024, and the money has to be spent by the end of 2026.

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