Board Reviews Preliminary Plan to Utilize Federal COVID-19 Recovery Fund Money

MEGAPIXEL / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

The Weld County Board of Commissioners has reviewed Finance Director Don Warden’s preliminary draft for use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars allocated to Weld County. A total of $63,028,767 from the ARPA is dedicated to Weld County as part of a federal distribution program designed to help offset revenue lost during the pandemic as well as cover COVID-related costs incurred by local governments.

While the county remains well-situated financially, the county did experience negative financial impacts due to the pandemic including costs for COVID-19 response as well as a decline in revenue through property tax and severance tax dollars, which ultimately impact projects such as road repair and maintenance.

Under the American Rescue Plan, funds may be used to support public health response; address negative economic impacts; replace public sector revenue loss; offer premium pay for essential workers; invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

According to documents prepared by Warden, Weld County realized a reduction in revenue of $70,085,612 in comparison to the base year revenue period ending December 31, 2019, to the 12-month calculation date of December 31, 2020.

Revenue that comes into the county comes primarily from property taxes and severance taxes was negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The county received its first installment of federal dollars, just over $31.5 million, last April. The second installment, for the same amount, is expected in April of 2022. The county’s completed recovery plan is due to the U.S. Treasury Department on August 31, 2021.

Items and projects the funds will be put toward include: added jail costs related to COVID-19 in compliance with the court order to safeguard staff and inmates; added health department costs for salaries and additional staff for contact tracing, vaccine distribution, and clinic set up; added IT infrastructure costs to support online engagement during the pandemic for both public and staff; maintaining scheduled public works infrastructure projects (delaying would result in increased costs down the road for materials and may negatively impact the traveling public); and maintaining scheduled for capital facility projects.

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