ARPA funding slow to go out, and in Bladen County theres a reasonable explanation for that – Elizabethtown Bladen Journal

Posted: October 19, 2021 at 10:06 pm

ELIZABETHTOWN A report released last week by a nonprofit Libertarian-based think tank offers true information on the American Rescue Plan Act, and yet leaves out some important facts.

The Reason Foundation researched 142 reports filed by states, cities and counties and declared state and local governments have spent very little of the federal aid they allocated under the American Rescue Plan Act. On its website, Reason goes on to knock the Biden administration and lawmakers who cited urgency in passing $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments.

Bladen County commissioners have a share of that money, and have recently been in discussions for appropriation. But there isnt necessarily a hurry.

County Manager Greg Martin, responding to questions from the Bladen Journal, wrote in an email, The deadline for obligating funds is December 2024 and deadline for spending funds is December 2026. The Board recently held a public hearing and received requests for funds. US Treasury has not released Final Rule regarding eligible uses of funds. The School of Government advises local governments to plan but wait for final rule. We will plan to determine uses of funds in the near future.

Bladen County was allocated $6,355,865 and thus far has received one-half, or $3,177,932.50. Martin said the county has used only $30,777.40 thus far, all for the purpose of COVID-19 sick leave.

These funds are not to be confused with prior relief funds for COVID-19, some of which came during the Trump administration.

Martin wrote in the email, Bladen County received $1,417,464.82 in Coronavirus Relief Funds. To date, $1,390,838.75 has been spent. The unspent funding of $26,626.07 is due to items ordered by the Town of White Lake being on back order. Funds are to be spent by December 31, 2021.

The Reason Foundations report trumpets that 97 percent of the funds the Biden administration was in a hurry to get and disperse have not been spent. It cited, for reasons the money has gone unspent, state and local governments seeing very minimal dips in 2020 revenue, and strings attached to the ARPA funds restricting how they can be spent.

The John Locke Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank in Raleigh, recently documented nearly 90 percent of the $6 billion in COVID-19 relief funds sent to the state being unspent as of mid-July. At less than 2 percent unspent, Bladen County significantly bucks that trend.

This story authored by Alan Wooten of the Bladen Journal. Contact him at 910-247-9132 or awooten@bladenjournal.com.

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ARPA funding slow to go out, and in Bladen County theres a reasonable explanation for that - Elizabethtown Bladen Journal

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