Deadline set for Huron County ARPA project requests – Huron Daily Tribune

Those who have a project idea that can use federal funding should submit it sooner than later.

The Huron County Board of Commissioners has set a deadline of Dec. 31 for receiving requests for use of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. A second period for submitting requests may occur based on the availability of funds.

Huron County Executive Assistant Jodi Essenmacher said that once the end of the year comes around and all the requests come in, a new list of them will be put together and given to the commissioners to prioritize.

More notable requests the county received recently include the health department requesting premium pay for its employees, the county courts requesting funds for an electronic document management system, and project proposals from the Huron County Road Commission to improve the water and sewer infrastructure in Lighthouse, Oak Beach, and Wagener parks.

“There are talks of other projects coming in, but we don’t have them yet,” Essenmacher said.

During this week’s commissioners meeting, Ken Guza of the Huron County Historical Society formally requested $500,000 of those funds to go toward the effort to purchase and renovate the Hubbard Memorial Hospital building. The Friends of Hubbard Memorial Hospital, which Guza spoke on behalf of, want to turn the building into apartment units, senior housing, and overnight lodging.

The county was allocated $6 million from the federal government to fund such projects, with $3 million received back in May and another $3 million due in 2022.

Project requests the county had received from county department heads back in September include:

• Premium pay for the sheriff and janitorial staff

• Upgrading ventilation in the county jail

• Outdoor and park improvement grants

• Broadband expansion

• Emergency paging system upgrade for the county building

• Small business recovery grants

• A courthouse/jail generator project

• Upgrading facilities for the Port Austin Artist in Residency program

• Improving signage on the Heritage Water Trail

The county has already started using some of the allocated funds, which so far have gone toward covering the costs of renovating the friend of court and juvenile court offices, $327,000; a sewer project at the Huron County Fairgrounds, $86,000; and the use of a consultant. Further projects are expected to be approved at the next commissioners’ meeting Nov. 9.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which made $65.1 billion available to counties nationwide as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Recipients can use the funds to support public health expenditures, address negative economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers, and invest in sewer, water, and broadband infrastructure.

There also has yet to be a final ruling from the federal government on what kinds of projects are eligible to receive funding, with interim rules currently in effect. While they were expected to be given by the end of October, they are now planned for the end of the year.

“There is a comment period on those,” Essenmacher said. “I was told that the federal government has to respond to every comment and question before they issue final rules, which is why its taking longer than anticipated.”

The county has until Dec. 31, 2024 to obligate how the funds are spent and until Dec. 31, 2026 to spend all the funds.