Lincoln County Board closer to final ARPA funding

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Members of the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors heard July 5 that plans are ready, even if the funds aren’t, when it comes to road and bridge resurfacing or repairs using American Rescue Plan Act monies.

“I’ve got the plans ready,” County Engineer Ryan Holmes told supervisors of the documents needed to spend ARPA funding. However, County Administrator Daniel Calcote said the last part of the funding — $3.3 million — has not arrived yet, though he expected it this month.

In March 2021, Congress passed the ARPA as a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill. ARPA then spawned the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund that designated $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes and territories throughout the country, including $130 billion for local governments, to be split evenly between counties and municipalities.

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Mississippi alone will receive more than $1.8 billion and its 82 counties and approximately 300 municipalities will split more than $500 million based on certain pro rata (proportional) formulas.

Lincoln County is looking at $3.3 million, which will be added to the $3.3 million it already received last summer. That money has been stewing untouched in an interest-bearing account ever since because qualified spending wasn’t spelled out until this past January. At first, the only qualified spending was responding to COVID-19 impacts, offering premium pay for essential workers, and investments in water, sewer or broadband qualified. Now it can include roads and bridges, which is just what Lincoln County supervisors liked to hear.

Since then, Holmes has been discussing projects with each supervisor to ensure all the bases are covered. He told them during the July 5 meeting that those wish lists are now maps that describe how the money would be spent and where, what and how.

Holmes, Calcote and the supervisors will conduct a work session July 13 to finalize those plans.

“I would like to sit with each of you individually to go over the cost of each road,” Holmes told them. “We are going to put a fuel index on these bids — the first time I ever did something like that — as a fair way to do it. That way we only have to pay the difference” … between costs at the time of the bid and costs at the time of the construction.