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County outlines first Rescue Plan fund use

The Warren County Commissioners are prepared to cut the first checks out of its $7.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

The first $66,604 is for a “list of in-house items that are for either remote working (or) items to make it safer for the staff,” Lisa Hagberg, director of finance and administration, told the commissioners during Tuesday’s work session.

Some of the staff-specific items include, she said, contactless washing such as soap and towel dispensers.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said funding for an update to the county’s emergency operations plan is also included. He said Public Safety staff feel they can do it on their own but that the commissioners are hesitant to add that to a full plate of responsibilities.

There are some requests for funding outside the courthouse, but it’s unclear when those will be considered by the commissioners.

Kafferlin said Hagberg is “warehousing” those requests but said “(I) don’t know that we do have a timeline.”

He said the biggest component of the puzzle is the broadband issue.

“We don’t have any solid proposal before us at this time,” he said.

Commissioner Tricia Durbin said she is working with the county’s IT contractor to identify possible broadband opportunities in the county and has worked with Youngsville TV on a $30 million federal grant.

“I believe the notification date is sometime in November,” she said. “I think that will also have an impact on what we want to do with broadband going forward.”

City officials have asked the commissioners to allocate $500,000 for a proposed downtown boat launch and riverfront redevelopment project.

According to the National Association of Counties, there are five primary ways counties can spend the money: support a public health response, address negative economic impacts, replace public sector revenue loss, premium pay for essential workers as well as water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The funds are eligible to be used through the end of 2024.

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