FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

American Rescue Plan to bring millions of dollars in economic stimulus to Nassau County, Hillard, Callahan, and Fernandina Beach

By Cindy Jackson
Reporter
May 26, 2021

Taco Pope, County Manager and David Jahosky of the Government Services Group were on hand at the most recent meeting (May 24, 2021) Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to discuss the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), and the actual “ARP” or American Rescue Plan and its intended impact on Nassau County.

The ARPA is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March of this year.

The ARPA might be described as the sequel to the CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act which authorized more than $2 trillion to counter the impact of COVID-19). The CARES Act became law in March 2020 of which Nassau County received over $15 million.

According to guidance provided by the US Treasury, Nassau County is set to receive two payments which will total $17.18 million. 50% was received May 2021 and the remaining 50% will be received in twelve months – no sooner.

Said County Manager Pope, “we’re not rolling out a rescue plan, we’re rolling out a prosperity plan.”

During Jahosky’s presentation to the Board, he outlined the five primary categories for which funds can be used. They are:

• Strategic Infrastructure Investment (things like water, sewer and broadband)
• Local Business Incubation
• Revenue Stabilization
• Assistance to Nonprofits and other Community Organizations; and
• Strategic Investment in the Mitigation of Economic Uncertainty

Under the heading of nonprofit assistance, Pope envisions the County providing a liaison service to those groups to help identify resources and navigate the process.

David Jahosky of Govt Services Group

Jahosky described the CARES Act as “a sprint” while he views the ARPA as “a marathon,” a recovery program expected to last about three years.

Additional guidance is expected to be issued later this summer but, in the meantime, Jahosky made mention of certain prohibitions already in place. There can be no net reduction in tax revenue and no deposits can be made to fund pension liabilities. In addition, monies cannot be used that would duplicate programs already in place. For instance, a rental assistance program is now offered by the State so the County cannot and will not be providing such a service.

In addition, just like with CARES, there are “claw back provisions” in place with ARPA monies which simply means that money received (by the County) must be returned if a discrepancy is discovered showing that rules and regulations were not followed correctly.
Both Jahosky and Pope underscored the disparity in per capita allotments in total ARPA allocations to the county and municipalities.

With no questions asked by BOCC members after the presentation, a motion passed unanimously approving the document providing the basic information/suggested framework for moving forward with the Nassau County Prosperity Plan. Before any monies are spent, however, it will be necessary for staff to come before the Commissioners again.

As Jahosky noted in his portion of the presentation, the time between now until additional guidance is provided (expected in the next 60-90 days), will allow the County to engage in extensive planning and prioritizing.

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