Skip to content

County Explores Ideas for Spending American Rescue Plan Funds

By Eugenia Jones

McCreary County has already received $1.6 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and anticipates receiving another $1.6 million in funding next May.  The funding is a result of the federal reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Permissible uses for the funds are tightly governed, and according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the funds should target aid to those most in need due to  COVID-19, advance equitable policies, and strengthen systems to sustain long term investments in minority and low-income communities.

According to the Center, options for use of the funds may include (a.) building robust outreach operations to help people access available federal, state, and local aid, (b.) boosting incomes for essential workers and people with limited incomes, (c.) investing in people to improve public safety, (d.) investing in infrastructure such as broadband, clean water, and other projects.

According to McCreary County Executive Judge Jimmie “Bevo” Greene, McCreary County’s funding has been set aside in a separate account and must be spent by 2024.  Projects funded through the money must be completed by 2026.

Greene noted the guidelines for spending ARP funds are still vague.  

“We, along with most other counties, are still seeking guidance on how to legally spend the money,” Greene observed.  “Using the funds for broadband, water, and employee bonuses is definitely allowed.  After that, the spending must help with COVID-19.  For example, building expansion is allowed in some instances if expansion helps with COVID and social distancing.  We can also spend the money on certain social programs.”

Additionally, Greene noted there are additional federal and state “pots” of money that may duplicate ARP funding.

“Until we know exactly how much we are going to get from all the different sources, it’s difficult to know which funds to spend where,” Greene noted.

At some point in the future, Greene is hopeful that restrictions for spending ARP funds will be less cumbersome for those counties who show losses in total revenue due to COVID-19.  If restrictions do ease, the ARP funds might legally be used in different ways.  Judge Greene noted Congress is working on legislation that, if passed, will free local governments to spend greater amounts of their ARP funds on infrastructure.   

Thus far, the County has only spent a small amount of its ARP funds.  Approximately $150, 000 has been spent on emergency water repair at Yamacraw and about $2,000 has been spent on COVID-19 supplies.

Judge Greene, along with a small, informal committee, is working to develop ideas for spending the County’s ARP money and is seeking input.

When asked if the county is considering using the funds for bonuses for county employees, Judge Greene said the idea has been mentioned in committee.

“Small bonuses for our employees are being considered, and we are gathering input about that possibility,” Greene stated.  “I’m checking with other counties in the Lake Cumberland Region, and it seems that most have given their employees bonuses.  Both Wayne and Pulaski Counties gave bonuses to their county employees.  Adair County gave a $2,500 bonus to their full-time employees and $1,500 to their part-time.”

Greene said it will take months of action by Fiscal Court to implement plans to spend the entirety of McCreary County’s ARP funds.  However, he does foresee potential for the Court to take some action in December.  

In addition to funding infrastructure with ARP funds, Greene is also interested in funding social programs for McCreary Countians.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, ARP funds can be used to improve public safety by supporting mental health, assisting those with substance abuse disorders, and helping individuals in ways that minimize their contact with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.  

Leave a Comment