Douglas County leaders hear update on ARPA disbursements so far, approve budget to repair courthouse elevator

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

The Douglas County Commission prepares to vote on a motion related to a repair project for the courthouse elevator at the commission's Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 meeting.

Douglas County leaders on Wednesday were briefed on the status of American Rescue Plan Act funding disbursements so far, as well as a new procedure for awardees who need to report changes to their ARPA project scopes or budgets.

The Douglas County Commission heard a presentation on the topic at its Wednesday evening meeting. County staff reported that since the commission finished the process of allocating ARPA funds in early July, $5.5 million in funding has been distributed. Portions of that amount have gone toward agencies like the Children’s Community Center — $3.25 million to acquire the commercial building at 346 Maine St. — and the Douglas County Historical Society.

“I like knowing that we’ve already gotten a lot of those dollars out to the community, so I appreciate those updates,” Commissioner Shannon Reid said.

County staff also noted that two web forms have been created for awardees to request revisions to their original project budgets or scopes, and a webinar will be provided to explain how to file them.

In other business, the commission:

* Authorized Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky to enter into an agreement with Minnesota Elevator Inc. for the amount of $91,954 and authorize a total budget in the amount of $110,344 for a project to repair the elevator at the Douglas County Courthouse.

The project was a “walk-on” item for the agenda Wednesday, meaning it was a last-minute addition to the commission’s business for the week. It was added because the elevator, according to county staff, became “non-functional” last Thursday.

It’s unclear when exactly those repairs will be complete, but the county’s director of capital projects, Jay Zimmerschied, said it could take upward of 12 weeks. For now, if residents need to take care of any business upstairs at the courthouse, county staff will come to them on the ground floor instead, Plinsky said.

* Met in an executive session to consult with the Douglas County counselor regarding “matters that would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship.” This was the fourth time commissioners have met in executive session since their Aug. 17 meeting, this time for more than an hour. Each time, the county’s director of behavioral health projects, Bob Tryanski, has been included.


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