WILMINGTON — Clinton County commissioners are anticipating several million dollars for the county from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the most recent of the COVID-19 relief bills.
Clinton County Commissioners President Mike McCarty said commissioners want to put “the bulk of the money” into infrastructure.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website, the Rescue Plan will, among other things, provide resources for state, local, and tribal governments to invest in infrastructure, including water, sewer, and broadband services.
McCarty said last week commissioners are waiting on further guidance as to specifically which types of infrastructure projects can qualify for the funds.
“We’ve talked to other elected officials and county partners on different things. So, as we know more, we’ll start focusing that plan [picking particular projects],” said McCarty.
He added that county officials have done a lot to start that planning process, with an eye upon infrastructure projects with a lasting impact.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said once the U.S. Treasury has completed developing rules and guidelines to implement the law, then “being able to pick the right projects here in Clinton County will be very important.”
He said he looks forward to the funds helping bring about projects needed to raise the level of some Clinton County infrastructure systems to a level enjoyed by some counties to its west, specifically mentioning Warren County.
Warren County’s infrastructure such as water and sewer availability, broadband, and new wide roads have been key factors in a lot of its growth, said Steed.
Although commissioners, as reported above, want to invest the bulk of the money into infrastructure, they also are constantly reaching out to community partners to make sure they are helping the groups that were hit hardest by the pandemic, said McCarty.
“So, we’re always monitoring that, too,” he said.
After a prior COVID relief bill, the county set up a small business economic development grant fund, noted commissioners.
According to the County Commissioners Association of Ohio website, Rescue Plan funds will be distributed directly by the U.S. Treasury Department to counties without the need for appropriation by the state legislature.
Furthermore, the treasury department must distribute the first half of the grant amount within 60 days of the bill’s passage — President Biden signed the bill into law on March 11. The remaining 50 percent of the funds will be distributed no sooner than 12 months after the first payment.
The deadline for a county to spend the funds is Dec. 31, 2024. McCarty said the deadline date gives public entities more time to look into projects and get them implemented.
Local governments, including counties, are required to provide periodic reports providing a detailed accounting of the use of funds, according to the National Association of Counties website.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.