County issues 3rd quarter report on ARPA spending

POUGHKEEPSIE — Since receiving more than $57 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Dutchess County has to date spent under half its allotted amount.

The program, begun in March of 2021, distributes funds for state and local governments to cover expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including economic hardships that struck small businesses, households and nonprofits, and provided premium pay for essential workers. It also allowed for investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

ARPA can also provide aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality. In September, additional flexibility was granted by the U.S. Treasury allowing use of the funds  to respond to natural disasters, build critical infrastructure, and support community development.

The federal money must be obligated by the end of 2024, and spent by the end of 2026. 

In a 3rd quarter update on the allocation of ARPA funding, County Comptroller Robin Lois reported earlier this month that as of  Sept. 30, 2023, the County has spent $25,111,702, including $2,297,254 spent in the 3rd quarter of 2023.

According to Lois, the five largest expenditures from the third quarter were for: 

(1) County Payroll and Benefits – $919,988; 

(2) Architectural planning and design of the Youth Opportunity Center in Poughkeepsie at the site of the former YMCA – $304,943; 

(3) Mechatronics lab equipment at Dutchess County Community College – $267,912;

(4) Infrastructure improvements to Hillcrest and Hudson River Lodging homeless shelters in Poughkeepsie– $197,339, and 

(5) Playground equipment for Hackett Hill playground in the Town of Hyde Park – $170,000.

Under County Executive William F. X. O’Neil, the spending plan is organized into five major categories: youth; county parks; economy, community and county government. 

 

Youth programs

More than $13 million was assigned to funding youth programs in three categories. One, the “Learn, Play, Create” grant program “to enhance and provide opportunities for children to learn, play and create while fulfilling emotional, financial, and social voids caused by the pandemic.” The program focused on libraries, not-for-profit youth sports and arts organizations with awards totaling $2,988,882.

A summer employment program for school-age children was budgeted at $100,000.

The third component aims to build a youth center in Poughkeepsie, of which $4.6 million “has been spent or encumbered for demolition of the old site, consulting fees and the planning and design for the new Dutchess County Youth Opportunity Center,” according to the 3rd quarter Comptroller’s report. 

 

County parks

Nearly $8 million was assigned for investment in county parks under O’Neil’s June 30 updated plan, and as of the end of the 3rd quarter some $3 million has been expended or encumbered.

 

Economic investment

Another $8.2 million has been allocated for investments in the economy, such as jobs, infrastructure and public safety. As of Sept. 30, $5.8 million has been spend or encumbered. One large expenditure in this category was $3.7 million to develop, install and deploy a two-way radio system for emergency services. 

 

Community spending

In terms of investing in the community, the ARPA plan calls for $20.9 million to be divided in six categories. By the end of the third quarter, $5.9 million has been spent or obligated. They include $3 million in awards to nonprofits that provide services and programs to residents most in need; $5.2 million to rehabilitate a wing in the old county jail to provide emergency housing for the homeless.

 

County government 

An allocation of $6.8 million targeted rehiring the public sector, which included funding to replace 96 of the vacant county positions; and monies in the amount of $1.7 million for one-time payments to county employees who faced risk during the pandemic.

“The key outcomes for this funding include filling vacant positions, creating facilities and supporting infrastructure that has an impact on the community, and enabling the economy to come back stronger,” the Comptroller’s report states. 

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