How area governments spent CARES Act, ARPA funds

LIMA — Years of discussion ended in April when the Allen County commissioners agreed to spend the county’s final $10 million of federal pandemic aid to relocate county offices into a new administrative building.

Allen County received $25.4 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and American Rescue Plan Act, which provided enough funding for the commissioners to pursue the long-dormant project that was once set back by a failed sales tax referendum and a pandemic.

The historic infusion of federal funding from the CARES Act and ARPA — initially authorized by Congress to offset sales tax losses, prevent mass layoffs and help local governments make their offices safer amid a pandemic — allowed officials in Delphos to extend sewer lines, replace fire hydrants and consider other wastewater improvement projects.

In Shawnee Township, ARPA funding allowed the trustees to upgrade the township’s communication infrastructure and invest $1 million to use toward future infrastructure or building projects.

Spencerville officials plan to spend the village’s ARPA dollars on water line replacements.

And Lima officials intend to use the city’s $26 million from ARPA on a variety of projects — a community pool, new street lighting, blight removal, public service apprenticeships and grants for new businesses, developers and property owners who can’t afford to keep their homes up to code — proposed by Mayor Sharetta Smith last summer after a series of community meetings and surveys.

A common theme of those meetings: the need for youth-oriented activities to keep kids out of trouble, which led city officials to seek funding for new after-school and summer programs and a youth summer jobs program.

The fate of ARPA once seemed shaky as lawmakers considered clawbacks of unspent dollars from states and local governments, but a bipartisan debt ceiling agreement approved by Congress this week narrowed ARPA recissions to federal agencies instead.

That was good news for communities such as Ottawa and St. Marys, which still have unallocated ARPA funding.

Officials in Allen and Auglaize counties relied on a provision in ARPA — the least restrictive of the two pandemic relief bills — to reimburse spending from their county general funds, ultimately allowing both counties to allocate all of their remaining funds by April.

Allen County commissioners relied on ARPA to upgrade county records keeping and IT services and purchase a $444,000 command bus for the Emergency Management Agency, in addition to the $10 million set aside for the new administrative office.

Snapshot of Allen County’s ARPA spending

• $40,000 for COVID tests

• $4,000 for glass barriers

• $9 million for safety service reimbursement

• $765,000 to upgrade county records keeping

• $1.5 million for design engineering

• $343,000 for IT upgrades

• $1.5 million forw Allen Water District

• $1.2 million for ventilation improvements

• $500,000 for Allen County Fairgrounds water project

• $500,000 for the Allen County Land Bank

• $444,000 for new EMA command bus

• $1.5 million for Allen Sanitary Engineering

• $10 million for new administration building

How Lima plans to spend its $26 million of ARPA funds:

• $1.5 million for demolition of blighted properties

• $1.2 million for street and curb improvements

• $350,000 for ADA ramps and sidewalks

• $500,000 for business facade improvement grants

• $350,000 for new street lighting

• $75,000 for general blight removal

• $5 million for Opportunity Zone Fund

• $550,000 for Spring and Main improvements

• $500,000 for revolving loan fund to support aspiring entrepreneurs

• $500,000 for public service and construction apprenticeship program

• $25,000 for arts-based businesses

• $7 million for revenue recovery for city’s operating budget

• $420,000 for one-time premium pay for essential workers

• $4 million for community pool

• $1 million for recreational facilities and playgrounds

• $150,000 for youth summer jobs

• $50,000 for after-school and summer youth programs

• $1.7 million in seed money for Lima Community Improvement Corporation

• $500,000 for paint program

• $500,000 for property owners to bring homes into code compliance

• $500,000 for emerging developers to build in targeted neighborhoods