Consulting firm says three Adams County projects meet ARPA eligibility requirements

Bret Austin

Bret Austin, finance director for the Adams County Board, speaks to the media after Monday's meeting of the executive committee of the Adams County Board.

QUINCY — The executive committee of the Adams County Board can move forward with three projects that will be paid for with money the county has received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Bret Austin, finance chairman for the Adams County Board, said in Monday night’s executive committee meeting that representatives from Bellwether LLC in Normal believe the replacement of the Adams County Health Department’s heating and air conditioning system, an elevator modernization project at the Adams County Courthouse and a network infrastructure upgrade have met eligibility requirements.

Spending on the network infrastructure upgrade and the courthouse elevators must be approved by the county’s Transportation, Building & Technology Committee before it goes to the County Board for final approval. The Adams County Board of Health must approve spending on HVAC improvements before it goes to the County Board.

Bellwether, a veteran-owned Illinois-based operations consulting firm, provides services to both public and private sector clients. The County Board is paying Bellwether $20,000 over the next two years to ensure the County follows all of the guidelines and stipulations tied to the  $13.3 million it received in ARPA funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act provides $350 billion in additional funding for state and local governments. The state funding portion is approximately $195 billion, with $25.5 billion distributed equally among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The local funding portion is approximately $130 billion, equally divided between cities and counties.

Eligible uses of these funds include:

  • Revenue replacement for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, relative to revenues collected in the most recent fiscal year prior to the emergency;
  • COVID-19 expenditures or negative economic impacts of COVID-19, including assistance to small businesses, households, hard-hit industries and economic recovery;
  • Premium pay for essential workers;
  • Investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The County Board submitted to Bellwether multiple ideas for projects it believed could be ARPA-eligible.

A cooperative street repair program with the city, improvements to the riverfront, funding to the Adams County tourism marketing plan and a talent attraction program through the Great River Economic Development Foundation were deemed ineligible for ARPA funds.

Some ideas were potentially eligible. Bellwether offered suggestions for county officials to provide additional information or address other issues. Those ideas ranged from:

  • Providing relief for non-profit agencies in the county;
  • A residential stimulus program;
  • Rental relief;
  • Infrastructure improvements at the Adams County Fairgrounds;
  • An infill housing initiative; 
  • Improvement of technology at the Adams County Courthouse; 
  • Improvements to the Amtrak station.

Austin said two courthouse elevators were unavailable for use “about 75 percent of the time” for the past year. Modernization of the courthouse elevators will cost approximately $1 million.

“We’re funneling people through one door on the courthouse side during COVID,” he said. “(Improving the elevators) would give more public access to the (county) clerk side of the courthouse.”

The cost of the HVAC replacement is approximately $800,000. The network infrastructure upgrade, which will improve remote working capability and virtual meetings while also increasing data storage, will cost $1.3 million.

The executive committee went into executive session for about 20 minutes to talk about personnel issues at the end of Monday’s meeting, but no action was taken.

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