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Monroe mulls how to spend $2 million

WOODSFIELD — Monroe County is set to receive $2,648,109 in American Rescue Plan funding to offset lost revenue and aid with local infrastructure improvement projects, among other items.

Monroe County Treasurer Taylor Abbott said the county will receive the funding in two installments — half of the funds will be distributed this year and the other half next year.

He added that there are four stipulations regarding what the county can spend the money on, which include:

Responding to the coronavirus health impacts or economic impacts including assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits and impacted industries including hospitality, travel and tourism;

Providing premium pay for essential workers up to $13 an hour with an annual cap of $25,000;

To cover for lost revenue in providing services;

To make investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

Abbott said half of the federal funds should be released to the county by the end of spring. He said other than the aforementioned stipulations, the county has not received any guidance or details regarding what the funds should go toward. He said he hopes the money will be used toward “much-needed” infrastructure projects that will help improve residents’ quality of life and also attract business development to the county.

The final decision on how the funds will be spent is left up to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Mick Schumacher said board members are unsure how the funds will be distributed out to the local villages and townships. He said there may be a formula that will break up the funding amounts per municipality, but he is not certain what it is as of yet.

“We haven’t received any of the criteria, so until they send us the rules and the regulations we are kind of holding back until we learn the restrictions,” he said.

Commissioners have only briefly discussed the funding and what they plan to spend it on, he said. A couple projects they have discussed putting the money toward are broadband expansion and the Ohio & Lee Township Water & Sewer project.

“But, we haven’t made any determinations yet. We’ve just talked about worthwhile projects that we have in the area. That’s as far as we’ve gotten,” he added.

Schumacher said he has mixed feelings regarding the funding opportunity. On one hand, he said, he is looking forward to having the money available to help improve infrastructure in local communities; however he wonders how these funds will be paid back in the end.

The county has until December 2024 to spend the money.

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