Adams County is receiving $20 million in pandemic recovery funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) program enacted in March of this year. In fact, $10 million was received in May and is now in the bank drawing interest, with the next $10 million due to be delivered in 2022. The program as originally authorized has several eligible uses, including: public health response expenses, the replenishment of pandemic related budget shortfalls, aid to individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic, premium pay for essential workers, water and sewer projects, and broadband development projects. An Interim Final Rule was issued by the Treasury Department in April along with additional guidance, thus enabling local governments to begin planning for the use of the ARP funds. With over a thousand public comments received on the Interim Rule, Treasury is still considering a Final Rule.
Adams County, like many, if not most, Pennsylvania counties is understandably moving very deliberately to consider its options, with the funds not needing to be obligated until the end of 2024 and actually spent until the end of 2026. Part of the reason for this deliberate pace is that the National Association of Counties is pressing Congress to pass additional legislation to broaden the eligible uses of ARP funds. In fact, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill, S. 3011, the Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, that will allow counties and cities to use a significant portion of ARP funds for budget purposes without showing pandemic related revenue shortfalls. The Senate bill also makes eligible any infrastructure project now permitted under existing federal statutes, as well as natural disaster recovery expenses. A similar bill has been introduced in the House, but final action still could be weeks or months away.