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Supervisors reallocate federal COVID funding – give more to businesses

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

The Plumas County Board of Supervisors took another look April 12 at the $3.6 million flowing into the county from ARPA (the federal American Rescue Plan Act designed to address public health and economic impacts caused by COVID-19). The supervisors continue to reallocate the funds as more information becomes available internally and from the public.

Plumas residents were given nine options earlier this year to prioritize in terms of spending, as well as the opportunity to come up with some of their own ideas. Of the nine options presented, citizens placed the highest priority on expanding broadband services, supporting local businesses and expanding the county’s mental health services.

Originally the board allocated $1.8 million to broadband, but then it was learned that millions would be flowing into the county from federal and state sources — specifically to support broadband in rural areas. At first the board trimmed the broadband allocation to $1 million, but during the April 12 meeting, cut it further.

“I think that reasonably we could utilize a better portion of that $1 million in getting help to our businesses,” Supervisor Greg Hagwood said. Supporting local businesses was the second priority listed by the public, and only $250,000 had been allocated for that purpose. “I recommend that we take that up closer to $1 million,” he said.

Supervisor Jeff Engel agreed that the money could be better allocated, but wanted some money left in the broadband category to assist individuals connect to broadband if it became available in their area, but they didn’t have the means to connect to it.

The board also discussed the need to pay for an individual or an entity to oversee the funds.

Following is the overall spending plan that was approved April 12, but the funds will need to be formally budgeted before they can be spent.

Broadband infrastructure: $400,000

Business and CBO grants: $540,000

Human Resources: $774,000 (Stipends for county essential workers)

Water and sewer: $286,000 (Beckwourth pump repairs, $33,000; Blairsden bridge project, $250,000)

Update county’s IT: $750,000 (hardware, cyber security, sheriff’s office system upgrade)

Library: $24,794

COVID-19 mitigation/prevention: $506,715 (including $200,000 for COVID sick pay)

Administration: $349,959 (including $300,000 for administration of ARPA)

In the original allocation $244,800 had been earmarked for Plumas County Behavioral Health, but that money is not included in the most recent list. The public had listed mental health services as a priority so why was it not included? When reached for comment, Board Chairman Kevin Goss said that the allocation was pulled by the behavioral health department because there are alternative sources of funding now available.

 

 

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