On February 8th, 2022, Porter County’s Auditor Vicki Urbanik discussed the County’s 33.3 million dollars that is coming from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Biden signed 1.9 Trillion into law to be spent. The room was filled with local City Councilmen, local Trustees, and County Council members who will administer the funds between now and 2024.
Scott Williams, from the Portage City Council, said that Portage is getting 8 million and he wanted to find out more: “how to use the ARPA funds seeking direction and potential uses,” he said.
Vicki discussed the eligible uses and compliance as best she could, however, it is very complicated and comes with a great deal of scrutiny. “The First rounds of money has already been released, but fortunately Porter County has not spent any of it,” Vicki said.
The Four Categories Allowed to Receive Funds are: 1. Revenue Loss 2. Health and Negative Impacts 3. Premium Pay for essential employees and 4 Investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. “The County has 10 million in discretionary spending they can spend that does not have to be within the Fund’s restrictions, but the county is responsible for the money it spent and needs to be within the “intent” of the Act.” Vicki continued.
The “Final Rule” (see link below) which was approved on Jan. 27th, 2022 streamlines the appropriations to include a Fourth Standalone Category Of Beneficiaries: for aid to Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, and other impacted industries. Before using funds in this category to help another industry, consideration must look into economic impact as compared to tourism, travel and hospitality industries, and whether impacts were due to COVID-19.
Spending Outline (To Be Approved on Tuesday, Feb.22nd at the County Council Meeting)
Public Health: $810,000
Negative Impacts Through Townships: $500,000
Negative Impacts through RDA: $1,000,000
Marquette Trail: $2,500,000
Upgrades to Opera House: $5,500,000
Upgrade to Tourism Center: $150,000
Essential Workers: $1,200,000 (up to $4,000 per employee)
Water, Sewer, Storm Water, and Broadband: $4,000,000
Source for above expenditures (Click Here)
One Controversial Appropriation has been tabled and that is the 5.5 Million set aside for the Memorial Opera House, after several residents expressed concerns at the Council meeting on January 25th. ARPA is not to be confused with the CARES Act, which has already been paid out. (see link below)
You can sign up for text alerts on the Porter County Website that notify you when new Porter County Council meetings are scheduled. At every commissioners meeting we take public comment that is neither tethered to our agenda nor has a time limit.
Applying for Nonentitlement Funds
Porter County Timeline (to be added)
Tracking Porter County’s Exact Expenditures and Compliance
ARPA Final Rule (117 pages)
ARPA Money Allocations to Porter County Cities and Schools
Marquette Trail Map
CARES ACT Porter County Money Spent $5,502,270.00
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