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Rebuilding after pandemic…
The American Rescue Plan will deliver nearly six million dollars to Frio and La Salle counties for a substantial infusion of resources to help turn the tide on the pandemic, address the economic fallout and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery, according to the US Treasury.
Congress passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in March that included $350 billion in direct aid to states and cities, designed to support local governments that had experienced tax revenue shortfalls as businesses locked down during the coronavirus pandemic.
President Joe Biden noted in a prepared statement that the funding will make it possible for educators, first responders and sanitation workers to return to work.
The Treasury Department, which reported that around 1.3 million jobs in state and local government had been cut since the start of the pandemic, provided guidelines for the use of the federal funding. State governments are prohibited from using funds to offset tax cuts that were enacted after March 3 and cannot use funds to make a deposit to a pension fund or pad reserves.
Eligible uses include public health expenditures, addressing negative economic impacts, replacing lost tax revenue and offering additional pay for essential workers. Local and state governments are also authorized to use the money to invest in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.
According to a White House press release last week, President Biden is highlighting communities experiencing a surge in gun violence. The funding is aimed at hiring law enforcement officials or paying overtime where the funds are directly focused on advancing community policing strategies in those communities.
Funding comes as many local governments finalize their annual budgets.
After receiving the funds, counties have various reporting requirements that include an interim report due by August 31; quarterly project and expenditure reports; and an annual recovery plan performance report for counties whose populations are greater than 250,000.
Frio County is slated to receive $4 million, which will be disbursed in two pay-outs of $1.9 million; La Salle County will receive $1.5 million.
According to Frio County Judge Arnulfo Luna, monies will be used to support non-profit organizations that the county sponsors, such as the Frio County Childcare Board, CASA of South Texas, and the food bank for the next two fiscal years.
“As of right now I have told everyone we will not be increasing any salaries,” the judge said in a Tuesday morning phone interview. “I am still working with Crystal [Marquez, county auditor] and will have more information in the upcoming week.”
In La Salle County, officials say the monies will be divided between the county’s Fire Rescue & EMS and the sheriff’s office. County commissioners have yet to announce how much each will receive.
Pearsall City Manager Fred Reyes said the city has not received any funding from the ARP.
“The governor needs to request dollars on behalf of non-entitlement cities,” Reyes said. “The cities of Pearsall, Dilley and Cotulla have not received a dime.”
Non-entitlement cities are those with a population of less than 50,000. Once the request for funding has been approved by the US Treasury, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has 30 days to disperse the monies in accordance with guidelines established by the federal agency.
Reyes said the city of Pearsall may expect to receive $2.6 million, which will be divided into two payments of $1.3 million over the next two years.