Florida cities and counties ready reports to feds on use of ARA money

by | Aug 19, 2021

The federal government has handed out an astonishing amount of money to Florida and across the country to assist in the economic recovery from the pandemic as part of the federal American Recovery Act (ARA) and now it’s time for the recipients to tell the feds how they’re using the money.

Florida’s city and county managers are currently putting together comprehensive reports covering their progress since over $5 billion was sent to them at the end of May. Reports are required to cover from initial receipt of the money to the end of July and are due by August 31 to the U.S. Treasury, who has overall oversight of the funds.

The $2 trillion ARA included $350 billion in federal funds which were broken down into $195 billion earmarked for states and the District of Columbia; $65 billion for counties; $45.6 billion for 142 metropolitan cities; $20 billion for tribal governments; and $19.5 billion for smaller local governments that are not counties, generally with populations of fewer than 50,000. Florida received $8.8 billion, total.

Seventy-seven Florida metropolitan cities received $1.5 billion in May. The allotments to cities ranged from a relatively paltry $1.6 million to the City of Destin to $157,663,110.00 for the City of Jacksonville. A complete listing of each cities’ funding is here.

Florida counties also received a staggering amount of money, $4.1 billion to be split between the 67 counties.
According to the U.S. Treasury’s interim final rule, the money can be used for a laundry list of projects to assist in recovery from the pandemic. The money can be used to assist hospitals in staffing needs, to cover mental health needs in the community, provide housing assistance, improve infrastructure (especially water sustainability), improve broadband availability and a long litany of other projects and programs.

Palm Beach County, for example, received just over $290 million from the federal government as its share of the ARA and have wasted no time in putting that money into use.

Palm Beach County’s Assistant County Administrator Todd J. Bonlarron said the county administration has brought a plan to its Board of County Commissioners on how to spend the money.

He said the two largest categories for allocation of the ARA money are in the areas of Housing and Water, Environmental and Resiliency.

Water/Environment will receive approximately $75 million. Sixty million will go towards increasing the supply of affordable housing and workforce housing. Some of the money will also be used to expand Broadband services in the county and other smaller various projects.

“We really looked at some of the infrastructure and tried to figure out how we could use some of these dollars to address high level areas that transcend beyond a one-time expenditure of the funds and have lasting generational impact,” Bonlarron said.

Bonlarron continued, “The federal government has tremendous audit oversight over those funds. Down the line governments don’t want to be in a position to have to pay back funds they didn’t need.”


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