Douglas County Commission to consider setting aside 10% of $24M in pandemic relief for emergency purchases

Remainder of funding would go through competitive process

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

The west side of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 23, 2021.

Douglas County leaders will continue their discussion about the upcoming process for distributing nearly $24 million in federal pandemic relief funding, including the amount of funding that should be available for emergency distribution and the particulars about that process.

As part of Wednesday’s meeting, the Douglas County Commission will discuss what percentage of the $23.7 million that the county will receive over the next two years from the American Rescue Plan Act should be designated for emergency purposes. The amount previously suggested was 10%, and the commission will consider approving a funding policy that designates that level of funding for emergency purposes that would not go through a competitive selection method.

That would amount to about $2.37 million in emergency funding that could be spent through the end of 2024.

The proposed policy defines an emergency purchase as “the purchase of supplies, services, and/or construction where the urgency of need does not permit the delay in utilizing informal or formal competitive selection methods.” Under the proposed policy, the county administrator could approve qualifying emergency purchases under $250,000, and purchases over that amount would require approval from the County Commission.

Last month, the commission discussed the process and priorities for distributing the $23.7 million in ARPA funds. The county’s first installment of $11.9 million is available, and County Administrator Sarah Plinsky suggested at the time that the commission consider allocating a certain percentage for emergency funding and to have a longer-term process for the rest.

Commissioners previously agreed some emergency funding should be available, but that the majority of the money should go through a more strategic process. The County Commission has already allocated some emergency funding, including $125,000 in rent and utility assistance that local social service agencies said was needed as they begin to see the effects of the end of the federal eviction moratorium.

The Douglas County Commission will convene at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a study session and at 5:30 p.m. for its regular agenda at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Residents can participate in the meeting in person, virtually or via phone, and more information about those options is available at douglascountyks.org/commission/meetings.

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