A year after the coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic, the federal government enacted legislation to help stimulate the economy and recover from the financial cost of COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan Act sent $350 billion to local and state governments from its nearly $2 trillion total package. Brunswick County received nearly $28 million of those funds, and has already allocated more than $4 million.
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The funds can be used on supporting the public health response to the pandemic, address its economic impacts, replace lost government revenue, and invest in infrastructure.
The county approved a breakdown of the potential projects to be funded, but each individual project will come before the board again for approval with further details.
Of the county’s $27.7 million allocation, $10 million will go to revenue replacement. The legislation allows governments to use up to $10 million to recoup losses incurred during the pandemic, despite how their budgets were actually affected.
Brunswick County will use its full allocation to pay for law enforcement payroll expenses between July 14, 2021 and March 31, 2022, freeing up that amount from the general fund to pay for $10 million in other projects.
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The county will fund the following projects with the freed up general funds, the bulk of which will go to the Sheriff’s Department.
- $3.4 million for public safety radio upgrades.
- $1.2 million for replacing a Sheriff’s Department mobile command vehicle
- $1 million for assisting local non-profits serving community needs
- $1 million for grants to small business impacted by COVID-19.
- $500,000 for a new mobile medical outreach vehicle for “pandemic response services to rural areas of the county.”
- $333,000 for a Sheriff’s Department armored rapid response vehicle
- $300,000 for two portable multi-purpose shelters for emergency and disaster response
- $250,000 for weatherization and housing improvements to derelict structures.
- $250,000 for removal and cleanup of dilapidated structures throughout Brunswick County.
- $150,000 to upgrade the audio/video system and security cameras in the Commissioner’s Chamber.
- $100,000 for parking lot improvements at Brunswick Community College, which the county used as a vaccination site.
- $50,0000 for a volunteer fire department grant to purchase new radios
- More than $1 million will also be set aside for projects to be determined.
From the remaining $17.7 million, the county approved the following projects.
- $8 million for water and sewer projects to replace existing replacing existing lines.
- $1 million for partially funding a new Health and Human Services building. The entire project is expected to cost more than $30 million.
- $2 million for parks and recreation capital projects
- $1.4 million for a state mandated lead and copper litigation program
- $2.3 million for employee premium pay
- $650,000 for an air purification system in county campus buildings
- $500,000 for cybersecurity and internet connectivity upgrades
- $250,000 for library service enhancements
- $50,000 for personal protective equipment
- $150,000 for ARPA administration and reporting costs
- More than $1 million will be set aside for projects to be determined.
The county has already individually approved the funding for employee premium pay, parks and recreation projects and some water and sewer projects. It also approved the $10 million revenue replacement transfer to the general fund, though the individual projects to be spent with that money have not yet been approved.
Reporter John Orona can be reached at 910-343-2327 or [email protected].