Local governments, including Larimer County, continue to bear the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Larimer County has received the first of two payments totaling $69.5 Million in federal funding to address those impacts and aid recovery at the local level.
Larimer County has received the first payment of $35 Million in American Rescue Plan Act [ARPA] funding from the U.S. Treasury. The Board of Larimer County Commissioners was updated on the uses of the ARPA funds at a work session this week. Federal guidelines must be followed to ensure what constitutes an allowed use of ARPA funds to get the money out to the community as quickly as possible. The funding guidelines have been divided into four categories:
Internal county operational needs
Preliminary responses from a community survey in Spanish and English from the Larimer Recovery Collaborative indicate that economic needs affect the Spanish-speaking community the most. In contrast, social issues are the leading impact for those responding in English. Both demographics report a need for access to mental health services, childcare, and after-school programs.
To get the funds to the community as quickly as possible, a community “Immediate Needs” Grant Application system is being created to allow non-profits, businesses, special districts, and other entities to apply for grants. The goal is for the grant application process to be available and ‘live’ by October 20.
Of the $69 Million in funding, about $1.5 Million will be dedicated to the Incremental Pay Program. The allowed use for this funding is for about 200 employees from Criminal Justice Services, and 50 civilian employees at the Larimer County Jail on the front lines responding to COVID-positive clientele in correctional congregate living facilities within the Criminal Justice System.
During the high COVID infection period, clientele would have been furloughed by the judicial system into the community unsupervised, if not for the work performed by front-line employees. ARPA funds will also be used to encourage vaccination participation and promotion of the “Keep NoCo Open” campaign, designed to help businesses in the community stay open and stay safe.
The campaign will encourage community members to get the COVID-19 vaccination, especially with the recent rise in reported cases. The campaign is slated to begin soon and end in the second quarter of 2022 on various platforms. The funding will also address infrastructure needs such as broadband communication technology and water and wastewater projects.
The next ARPA work session with the Board of Larimer County Commissioners is scheduled for 1:30 pm, November 3, 2021.