The rescue plan committee begins its meeting | Heralrepublican

ANGOLA – Steuben County’s American Rescue Plan Act committee began meeting on Wednesday to determine how to spend the nearly $3.7 million the county will have.

While no concrete plans were made, the committee outlined various ways the money could be used or, as Steuben County Board of Commissioners Chairman Wil Howard puts it, invested.

The county received a total of approximately $6.7 million from legislation approved in 2021 by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Of this amount, approximately $2.2 million is being spent to offset revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 10% is set aside to pay for an audit, leaving another $3.7 million to spend.

“It’s almost like we can do anything,” Howard said. Pretty much the only thing the money can’t be used for is salaries.

Committee members include all commissioners – Howard, Lynne Liechty and Ken Shelton – and three Steuben County Council members, Ruth Beer, Jim Getz and Rick Shipe.

The group has completed an element. He created a list of ways to direct the money and decided he would ask the public’s opinion on spending.

The money must be committed to projects or needs by the end of 2024 and spent by 2025.

“We only have one chance, really,” Howard said.

Possible areas of spending included the following (nothing ranked):

• Wages of essential workers

• Childcare

• Drain

• Pay the judicial center

• Future investment

• Broadband infrastructure

• Non-profit groups

• Legacy projects (like Sheets Family Park)

• Major road projects

• Help for small businesses

• Extension of cycle paths

• Emergency Services

• Reimbursement of COVID expenses by departments

• Scholarships

• Collaboration on projects with Trine University and Cameron Memorial Community Hospital

“Six point seven million dollars is a lot of money until you start doing this stuff,” Howard said.

Beer insisted that the public be involved in the planning because, after all, it was public money that was being spent.

“We represent them. We need to know how they think it’s important to the county,” Beer said. “I’m not ready to start eliminating or consolidating (the list of projects). I want public comments.”

“I like the idea of ​​public input on this,” Howard said.

Officials will determine criteria for how the public can make their views known after an upcoming meeting. A specific deadline would be set for comments.

The group has not set another date. Meetings are open to the public for observation.