Update on American Rescue Plan Funds
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
Reporting for the Committee responsible for the American Rescue Funds, Commissioner Van Doren and I, held an initial meeting with the staff to review the interim rules from the U.S. Treasury Department issued last week, regarding the use of federal funds.
The staff has participated in numerous webinars by the Treasury Department, the White House, and the National Association of Counties, that attempt to explain the potential uses of the funds.
The regulations are complex. The interim final rule is 150 pages long.
Some key points are:
$24 million is allocated to Hunterdon County. $12 million this year and another $12 million next year.
The County may use funds to cover COVID-19 response costs incurred during the period beginning March 3, 2021, and ending December 31, 2024
All the funds need to be obligated by December 31, 2024 and must be expended by December 31, 2026.
As noted previously, the law and, now the regulations, are very clear
that the funds cannot be used to reduce taxes.
The rule notes that deposits to rainy day funds or financial reserves are not permitted. There is no saving this money for future emergencies.
General infrastructure spending is not an eligible use.
There is a requirement for quarterly reports to the federal government beginning with the first one due October 31, 2021.
There are however, numerous uses that are allowed for the funds, and in addressing the issue brought up by the Director at the last meeting, support for local small businesses is specifically allowed. Determining how best to do that will be the big challenge.
The next step will be to gain a further understanding of how the county needs to substantiate to the federal government the use of the funds, consideration of the strategic use of these funds, public input on potential uses, and to determine if outside consulting assistance is needed to provide guidance, accountability, and compliance.
The New Jersey Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties organizations will be an invaluable resource as we move through this process.
There is a significant amount of money allocated to Hunterdon County. Using those funds strategically, appropriately and to achieve its purpose of revitalization, is the goal of this Board.