Canadian County takes ‘first step’ to apply for stimulus funds

Hader: No decisions yet on how $28M in federal aid will be spent

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District 1 Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – Canadian County Commissioners have taken a critical step so the county can receive $28 million in federal stimulus aid.

Commissioners, at their weekly meeting Aug. 30, officially approved applying for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.

Canadian County is eligible for $28 million.

“This is taking that ‘first step’,” District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader said. “This doesn’t obligate us for anything. We haven’t made any decision on what we’re going to spend the money on.”

The ARPA of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill designed to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing recession.

It’s important that Canadian County Commissioners take this first step by applying for the ARPA funds through an online portal, according to Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries.

County Treasurer Carolyn Leck has started the “early process” so the Canadian County can receive the $28 million, Humphries added.

“But you all need to formally approve applying,” he told commissioners.

County Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve District 2 Commissioner Dave Anderson’s motion to “complete any documents necessary” to apply so Canadian County will receive federal ARPA dollars.

Canadian County’s board chairman, Jack Stewart, will submit the application electronically.

“We’re just trying to ‘get into the game’,” said Stewart, the District 3 commissioner. “We’ll figure out the strategy to win it later.”

Several entities already have approached Canadian County’s elected officials about distribution of the $28 million federal award.

“We’ve received requests to spend sizeable portions of it already,” Chairman Stewart noted. “So, our next step is to develop a strategic plan to figure out how we’re doing to do it.”

PROGRAM GUIDELINES

The ARPA was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March. Some $130 billion has been allocated to counties across the U.S.

Canadian County Commissioners on Aug. 2 approved an agreement with the District Attorney’s Office to administer the ARPA stimulus program.

There is no deadline to apply, ADA Humphries advised county commissioners.

“There’s no deadline except for the deadline to spend the funds, which is in 2024,” he explained. “Entities literally can apply up to 2024. They encourage you to do it as soon as possible, but there’s no hurry.”

Canadian County will be able to spend these federal APRA funds in four primary categories:

  • To respond to the negative economic impacts and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to be prepared for any future pandemics.
  • To provide premium pay for essential employees who undertook required public health-related work during the pandemic.
  • To restore lost revenues for any negative tax impact due to lower economic activity.
  • To upgrade and improve Internet broadband, water and sewer infrastructure.

The amount of ARPA funding that Canadian and other counties have been allocated was determined based on factors including population, COVID-19 financial impact and unemployment rate.

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ODDS N ENDS …

In other business at their Aug. 30th meeting, Canadian County Commissioners approved:

  • Awarding a $220,678 bid to Sunbelt Equipment to provide materials for a District 1 bridge project at Airport Road and 220th Street.
  • A $7,900 change order to a contract with Apex Flooring for three more areas in a carpet and cove installation project at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center.
  • Advertising for bids for a telescopic telehandler at the Canadian County Expo & Event Center.
  • A contract with the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents (on behalf of the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect) and the Canadian County Health Department to provide a replication site for the “Early Foundations” project. This will provide services for Canadian County autism students in FY2022.

Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward presented the weekly county jail report showing 282 inmates in custody, with 245 housed at the El Reno detention center and 37 prisoners in outside counties.