Frontline health care providers train themselves to stay calm and not get excited. But last Thursday, a group of such providers from Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson Counties sounded pretty durn excited during a brainstorming session health by the Eastern Panhandle Health Work Group.
Kat Stoll, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s Policy Director, shared information with the group about new federal funds coming to West Virginia counties, cities, and towns. Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a total of $676.6 million will be distributed across the state.
To learn about these new federal funds, we have posted on the West Virginians for Affordable Health Care website a new American Rescue Plan WV County and City Funds Tool Kit. The Tool Kit includes:
- A fact sheet with the basics about these new funds
- A link to a resource prepared by Senator Manchin’s office that estimates how much money is coming to counties and cities
- A link to the federal rules and the U.S. Department of Treasury website about this funding opportunity Ideas for gathering input from communities
- Information to help residents reach out to county commissioners and city council members that will be making decisions about this money.
On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) providing guidance to recipient governments explaining how the Treasury will interpret the ARPA legislation’s language and administer the Local Recovery Funds. The Treasury also launched a new website which includes information on the Local Recovery Funds.
Localities will receive the funds in two batches – the first, after the U.S. Treasury certifies the proceeds to each jurisdiction and the second, one year later. Funding must be spent by the end of calendar year 2024.
Counties, cities and towns can use the new federal dollars to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its negative economic impacts. These funds give states a lot of flexibility and the Treasury provides a long list of examples in the Interim Final Rule, which is why citizen involvement is so important.
In its guidance, the Treasury explicitly “urges state, territorial, tribal, and local governments to engage their constituents and communities in developing plans to use these payments, given the scale of funding and its potential to catalyze broader recovery and rebuilding.”
Who has been most affected by the pandemic? The Interim Final Rule includes references to people who are of low-income, minority communities, rural areas, frontline workers, the hospitality and tourism industries, and people who are underserved by adequate water and sewer systems and broadband.
But no one knows better than you do how the pandemic has affected you, your family, and your neighbors. It is up to you to share this first-hand information and ensure that it is considered in the planning for use of these funds.
So we hope that you will take a look at the American Rescue Plan WV County and City Funds Tool Kit and organize with your community neighbors to bring your ideas to this new funding opportunity.
The Eastern Panhandle Health Work Group members had no trouble thinking of what they would like to do with these new funds. They engaged in almost an hour of brainstorming about what the health needs are in their communities and their ideas about how the new federal funds could be used to meet those needs. Now the challenge is to share that information with the decision-makers who will ultimately decide what happens to these new federal funds. It is up to us to put the right ideas for our communities on the table!
It is not often that funds come into our West Virginia communities that are not already tagged to be used by someone outside of our communities. Let’s be sure that the funds are put to good use.