Lancaster County works to allocate federal ARPA money

The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners discussed how to allocate federal American Rescue...
The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners discussed how to allocate federal American Rescue Plan Act money at their Jan. 13 staff meeting.(10/11 NOW)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:59 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lancaster County is set to receive around $62 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money, and must now decide how to spend it.

Thursday, Lancaster County commissioners discussed how to allocate the money following the federal government’s final ruling of where those dollars can go.

The main stipulation - the money must be spent on items impacted by the pandemic, according to Lancaster County budget and fiscal director, Dennis Meyer.

“With the ARPA funding what it’s really trying to say now in the final rule is that you really got to look at the funding and tie it back to the pandemic,” Meyer said. “That maybe wasn’t as focused when it originally came out.”

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the final rule expands the list of uses for ARPA money, and also allows counties to use up to $10 million of that money for general government services without complicated revenue loss calculations.

“It used to be set up that you had to do a revenue loss calculation to determine how much money could the county take, now they’re doing like here’s a standard allowance,” Meyer said.

County Commissioner Deb Schorr said funding that will not change is $1.5 million to the Lincoln Airport to improve air service and potentially bring in other airlines, and $3.5 million to the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department.

“Obviously they had the greatest impacts during the pandemic so we are working with Pat Lopez on how those funds might be utilized,” Schorr said. “But I know that that’s a high priority to the board to continue to support the efforts of the health department.”

The commissioners will meet again next week to go over spending proposals for the Jan. 31 due date.

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