Benton County Seeking Candidates For Federal Dollars

BENTONVILLE – Benton County has only received 11 requests for help with the US bailout, but a county official expects things to improve.

The county’s US bailout committee has held meetings over the past month to discuss how to spend the millions of federal dollars that have flooded into the county due to covid-19.

Organizations should apply for money if they can demonstrate that their activities support the public health response or have suffered economic damage from the pandemic, and the money they distribute responds to the damage in a related and reasonable manner. proportional, according to a county press release.

Applicants can go to the website and click on the “Submit US Rescue Plan Proposal” tab to initiate the application process. Applicants have until 11:59 p.m. on October 31 to apply.

“This is a unique opportunity for organizations in our area to partner with Benton County and mitigate covid-19,” said Channing Baker, county communications director. “The Benton County ARP Portal is designed for people to learn more about the US bailout, read the guidelines, and see if they are eligible for funding under the US Treasury Department’s Interim Final Rule. “

Once the application is complete, County Judge Barry Moehring, US Rescue Plan Committee Chairman Tom Allen, and County Comptroller Brenda Peacock will review it to ensure it complies with the rules and guidelines of the rescue plan. rescue. All nominations will then be sent to the committee, which will then vote on which organizations will be invited to present to the judges in person; the county will announce the dates and protocol for the organizations to make their presentations, the statement said.

Peacock said she was not surprised by the number of nominations received so far.

“We have had requests for information, but it is still early in the process,” she said.

Peacock predicts that applications will start to flow as the deadline approaches.

Moehring said the process has been going well so far, noting that the county has received several submissions since the portal launched and several calls from organizations seeking information.

“Perhaps more importantly, the portal contains links to resources so organizations can determine whether or not their idea or project is eligible for ARP funding,” he said.

The US bailout provides $ 350 billion in federal funds to qualifying state, local, territorial and tribal governments nationwide, according to the county.

The county will receive a total of $ 54 million – $ 27 million over the next two years.

At Tuesday night’s finance committee meeting, judges approved an employee compensation proposal that will use federal money. The plan has yet to be approved by the quorum court.

Payments will be $ 2,000 for full-time employees and $ 1,000 for part-time employees. The estimated cost is $ 1.5 million, Peacock said.

At the finance committee meeting, it was also approved the use of federal funds to pay the staff of the Beaver Lake and Northeast Benton County Volunteer Fire Departments. The proposed payment would be the same as that which will go to full-time and part-time workers in the county. Beaver Lake has four full-time and 27 part-time employees; Northeast Benton County has three full-time positions and 40 part-time employees. The total cost will be estimated at $ 90,000, according to county documents.

The two are the only volunteer fire departments not supported by the municipality with paid staff mainly, but not entirely, as they have an ambulance service, Moehring said.

The county will also use $ 207,500 in volunteer firefighters‘ rescue funds to match state money under Bill 833. Nine county fire departments have been listed in county documents. . The departments do not receive any municipal support, Moehring said.

The State Fire Services Program – Act 833 of 1991 – provides money for the improvement of qualified fire services and is not intended to pay for the day-to-day operation of the fire services . All spending using Bill 833 money must relate directly to firefighting capabilities, according to the state.

A credit of $ 113,000 for the Northwest Arkansas Council vaccination campaign has also been discussed at the finance committee and will be repeated at the Committee of the Whole meeting next week.

Infrastructure, water, sewage and broadband and how the US bailout money could be used in these areas were discussed after the finance committee meeting, but no decision was made. socket.

On September 9, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee made a presentation to the US County Rescue Plan Committee on Prison Expansion Using Federal Plan Money.

Justices of the peace allowed Moehring to seek qualifications from companies for concept studies for a possible Benton County jail extension during bailout discussions.

An eligible use of the US bailout is “support for prevention, mitigation or other services in community living facilities (incarceration facilities, homeless shelters, etc.)”, according to information from an Aug. 16 county meeting that dealt with public health and the economy. recovery.

The county plans to use just over $ 1 million in bailout funds to replace the original heating and air conditioning units on the roof of the county jail. The prison opened in 1999.

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County facilities

How the US bailout might approach the county facilities will be discussed after the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday evening, Controller Brenda Peacock said. The Committee of the Whole meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the College Courtroom on the third floor of the County Administration Building in downtown Bentonville.

Source: Benton County

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