Austin calls ARPA funds ‘a once-in-a-generation opportunity’

adams county

Bret Austin is confident the funding already received — and what is yet to come — will prove to be a major assistance to Adams County in its efforts to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the health and economic impacts tied to the present situation.

“I’m optimistic about the process,” said Austin, who serves as chairman of the Adams County Board Finance Committee. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity … for the community.”

Austin addressed the board Tuesday night, providing some insight about the $12.7 million in funding Adams County will receive — $6.35 million is already banked, with the rest to arrive in the spring — and the impact it will have on the community. The money is tied to a pilot program that is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a $1.9 trillion federal aid package, $65.1 billion of which goes directly to U.S. counties.

Austin said Adams County will have until September 2024 to spend the funds. 

At this point, there is no down side to this,” Austin said. “There has been no consistent funding mechanism like this in the past.”

Some early projects have already been targeted, according to Austin. Specific programs and physical improvements involving such bodies as the Adams County Health Department and the Adams County Juvenile Detention Center are already on the projects list.

So is assisting a workforce development program that will involve filling job vacancies with qualified applicants who are on probation. Earlier this week, Great River Economic Development Foundation (GREDF) President Kyle Moore indicated there are currently more than 700 open jobs in the city of Quincy. Many of those positions are head-of-household positions with such firms as Knapheide, Titan Wheel, Manchester Tank, and Hollister-Whitney.

The County Board approved $50,000 of ARPA funding toward the program. Austin said the pilot program will be assessed over a six-month period, with detailed reports at the three- and six-month junctures.

In other action, the board:

Unanimously approved a $1.2 million contract to Diamond Construction of Quincy for the resurfacing of a portion of County Highway 37 (N. 48th Street), from Maine Street north to Columbus Road. The funding comes from the county’s Motor Fuel Tax fund.

Unanimously approved the reappointment of Lyle Waner as a trustee of the Bowen Fire Protection District and Robert L. Breckenhamp as a trustee to the South Quincy Drainage and Levee District.

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