After more than a year, Douglas County leaders complete process of allocating ARPA funds

photo by: Journal-World

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

The nearly $24 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding that Douglas County was awarded last year is now allocated in full, following final approval from Douglas County leaders on Wednesday night.

Douglas County was granted $23,747,378 in federal coronavirus pandemic aid, some of which had previously been earmarked for emergency uses and other expenditures during the height of the pandemic. Now, every dollar of that aid has a destination.

To get there, the Douglas County Commission has spent the past few weeks slowly paring down a list of almost 100 funding requests submitted by internal county offices and agencies from around the county. After the vote of approval from commissioners Wednesday night that authorizes county staff to prepare award documents for the agencies that will receive funding, that process has come to a close.

Commissioners said they were proud of the list of projects they’d worked to compile and excited to get to this moment after what Commissioner Shannon Reid referred to as an “intentional and thoughtful” process. But Commissioner Patrick Kelly also reiterated that it was difficult to leave many deserving projects unfunded. Before the commission pared them down, the requests for funding added up to more than $100 million — several times more than what the county had available to distribute.

“To all of our partners who submitted applications, I do recognize that we did not have enough funds to support all of the great ideas that were out there, and that is unfortunate,” Kelly said. “Certainly there will be those out there who feel their project should have made the cut; that is unfortunate, but I am very excited with the projects we have selected.”

In total, 14 nonprofits and other agencies are set to receive about $15 million of the county’s ARPA funding. The full list of those allocations is as follows:

• $733,711 to the Baldwin Retirement Apartment Complex to renovate existing apartments and add Americans with Disabilities Act-friendly units.

• $3,676,405 to the Community Children’s Center, some of which will be used to acquire a property located at 346 Maine St. that will serve as an early childhood community center. Agenda materials said a portion of the cost, $426,405, would be used to acquire another property, but the Community Children’s Center stated in a letter to county staff that it had different plans for that portion of the funding and will need to return to the commission to have the award agreement amended.

• $325,000 to Just Food for parking lot and warehouse improvements.

• $3,000,000 to the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to expand its Clinton Place property.

• $850,000 to Lawrence Habitat for Humanity to help the organization purchase land on Kasold Drive and create an economically diverse neighborhood.

• $118,000 to the Senior Resource Center to purchase two ADA vans for the Senior Wheels transportation program.

• $3,300,000 to Tenants to Homeowners to help fund the agency’s supportive service housing program.

• $184,500 to the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center to support a move into a larger office space.

• $35,000 to Douglas County to provide resource mapping for local entrepreneurs.

• $1,000,000 to the Housing Stabilization Collaborative’s shared rent and utility assistance program.

• $723,539 to the Douglas County Historical Society for capital expenses for six projects at sites around the county.

• $400,000 to the Ballard Center to help fund a building expansion.

• $305,000 to Central Grazing Company for a feasibility study for Kaw Valley Meats, a proposed meat processing facility in the county.

• $190,750 to Peaslee Tech to expand its commercial driver’s license program.

About 33%, or $7.8 million, of the ARPA funding is going toward 25 requests from specific county departments.

In other business, the commission:

• Passed a resolution rescinding the minimum maintenance designation on a portion of East 750 Road in Marion Township at the request of a property owner, Daniel Squires. According to state statute, that designation applies to any road within a county that commissioners deem is used only occasionally or by a few individuals.

• Approved a pair of conditional use permits for heavy equipment storage at 198 North 1250 Road and 564 East 1550 Road.


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