By Woodrow Polston
On Monday, Dec. 20, local officials met at the Audrain County Courthouse to discuss plans for the allocation of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. In addition to funding households, small businesses and schools, ARPA provides relief funds to state, local, and tribal governments that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These funds can be used by local governments to respond to the public health and economic emergency, provide premium pay to essential workers, replace revenue lost due to the pandemic, and make necessary investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
“Gov. Mike Parson recently announced his desire to allocate about $400 million to water and sewer infrastructure needs in the state of Missouri,” said Department of Natural Resources Policy Director, Rich Germinder. “The important thing to know, is that every pot of money that is being provided by the federal government operates differently. And they are all subject to different requirements,” he added.
In the general discussion of procedures and requirements, that are involved with taking advantage of the available funds for future projects, State Rep. Don Mayhew, R-121, urged local officials to take immediate action.
“With a time line like we have been given, which specifies that project funds are to be obligated by 2024 and spent by 2026, the first thing you are going to need is a preliminary engineer report for your projects,” said Mayhew, to the various commissioners, mayors and aldermen who were present. “If you don’t already have an engineer working on a preliminary engineer report, for a project that you would like to use these funds for, you had best find one immediately. After you have been approved for the funding of your project, the next step is going into design. Keep in mind, these steps will take as long as a year or two, and all of these projects are going to hit at exactly the same time in 2024. So, it will be difficult to find available contractors during this time frame. The best time to act on these projects is now,” added Mayhew.
The proposed time line for the appropriation of funds is: grant applications will be open in July 2022, grant funds must be awarded by Dec. 31, 2024, and all grant funds must be expended by Dec. 31, 2026. Germinder also encouraged everyone to act with a sense of urgency, concerning the necessary steps for receiving funds for desired projects.
“The most important piece of information for you all to be aware of, is the importance of completing your engineering reports for projects and identifying local funds. Because of the time lines that are set in place, and the supply chain disruption that everyone is aware of, every state will be competing for the same supply of pipe, gravel, dirt, and the same engineering firms. So, making sure that you have projects that are ready to go is essential,” added Germinder.
“We want to address any concerns here in our community,” said Commissioner Leslie Meyer. “We want to work with our cities to make sure that they have what they need to provide to their citizens,” she added.