MORROW COUNTY- Morrow County Commissioners reported the county has received a total of $6,862,050 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding over the past two years.

A payment of $3,431,025 was received on June 8, 2021 and the same amount was received on June 10, 2022.

Commissioner Tim Siegfried said several restrictions were tied to the ARPA funds, limiting their use mainly to water projects and broadband technology.

Commissioners set aside $1 million for the SoMoCo sanitary sewer upgrade project which is needed for the developing area at Interstate 71 and SR 61. This is in addition to the already approved $2,070,000 State of Ohio water grant for the site.

A change in the law allowed counties receiving less than $10 million to be reimbursed for county employment salaries already paid.

This allowed commissioners on August 8, 2022 to transfer $2,209,600.28 from ARPA payroll reimbursement to the county’s general fund.

These funds deposited in the county’s general and capital funds can then be used for high priority projects such as road improvements and needed technology upgrades.

Siegfried said this use of federal dollars offers the county more opportunities to complete needed projects that would otherwise be put on hold. He said all county officials were invited to have a list of suggested projects on how funds can be used.

Economic Development Director Andy Ware said the Commissioners have used this process to convert $5,280,609.74 of the original ARPA funds to the Capital and General funds.

Some projects identified made possible by these ARPA funds include: updated court document management cameras for the Sheriff’s Office and $587,141.08 for the Sheriff’s Office as part of violent crime reduction to hire employees.

Some projects for improvement and upgrade of technology include new video and audio system for recording public meetings, securing fiber availability between county agencies, software to allow e-filing for the court and e-filing for the recorder’s office.

The county’s economic development and comprehensive land use plans and an updated travel and tourism study were funded by ARPA funds. Funding for workforce development and grants management was also possible with this one-time distribution of money.

Backup power generation for the county courthouse was possible with the funding as well as matching funds of $200,000 for improvement to SR 229 and SR 95 intersections.

On September 7, 2022 Commissioners approved $673,386.94 for the purchase of the 480 Douglas Street building to be used for more space for the Board of Elections, maintenance department and needed storage space.

Commissioner Tom Whiston said there are unencumbered funds remaining from ARPA funds allocated to Morrow County. They must be budgeted by 2024 and used by the end of 2025.

By Alberta Stojkovic

For the Sentinel