By Conrad Dudderar
Nine entities have made formal requests totaling more than $23.7 million for Canadian County federal stimulus funds.
Canadian County has been awarded $28.8 million through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. The county has received half ($14.4 million) of those funds.
ARPA is a $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package designed to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing recession.
“We all agree, we ought to try to touch as many people as we can with the dollars that we spend,” Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson said.
Canadian County Commissioners have received formal requests for part of the county’s share of ARPA funding from:
- Assistant District Attorney (administrative) – $432,100.53
- Canadian County Sheriff’s Office – $332,030
- City of Mustang – $3,560,000
- City of El Reno – $3,500,000
- City of Yukon – $4,350,000
- Canadian County Water Authority – $723,179
- Boy Scouts – $500,000
- Health Department – $10,000,000
- Canadian County Assessor (technology) – $350,000
Counties, municipalities and states may spend APRA funds to:
- Upgrade and improve Internet broadband, water and sewer infrastructure.
- Respond to the negative economic impacts and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to be prepared for any future pandemics.
- Provide premium pay for essential employees who undertook required public health-related work during the pandemic.
- Restore lost revenues for any negative tax impact due to lower economic activity.
Of the $23,747,309 in Canadian County ARPA funds requested by the nine entities, $12,133,179 would help municipalities with water infrastructure projects.
If all requests were approved, that would leave $5,050,392.47.
Among other entities with projects that could be funded through Canadian County’s ARPA allocation are:
Cardinal Point domestic violence center, Intervention and Crisis Advocacy Network, Canadian County Courthouse (technology), Canadian County Jail, AT&T (Internet fiber optic), Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, and Maple Rural Water District.
The only cost already approved is the $432,100.53 for the Assistant District Attorney’s Office to administer the ARPA program for Canadian County.
As funding requests are received, Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries has been asked to provide county commissioners with guidance on whether they are eligible for help through this federal stimulus program.
“I know all three of us wrestle with the federal government doling out these dollars – and questioning whether that’s wisdom for the federal government to do,” said Chairman Anderson, the District 2 commissioner.
“Since they’ve done it, we need to try and make the best of it.”
MUNICIPALITIES AWARDED FUNDS
These six Canadian County municipalities have been awarded ARPA funds totaling more than $13.6 million:
- City of Mustang – $3,690,000
- City of El Reno – $3,210,000
- City of Yukon – $4,905,019.98
- City of Piedmont – $1,370,000
- City of Union City – $350,000
- Town of Calumet – $100,000
Piedmont, Union City, Calumet, and Okarche have not officially requested any part of the county’s ARPA allocation – at least not yet.
Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts have $2,500,000 and the Health Department has $3,000,000 in their own funds they hope to combine with county ARPA dollars for construction projects in Canadian County.
For example, the Boy Scouts’ organization wants to upgrade a camp.
“They have $2.5 million,” Humphries explained. “They’re looking to ‘get over the hump’ with an extra half-million for this project. If that involves COVID-related upgrades, then that may be possible.”
Canadian County District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader on Jan. 18 asked fellow commissioners not to commit to any ARPA funding requests.
“I would encourage us not to be ‘jumping on’ and trying to endorse anything just yet,” Hader said.
As it stands now, ARPA-funded projects must begin by 2024 and be completed by 2026. Since this is a federal stimulus program, proposed project timelines and eligibility requirements are subject to change.
Final rules on the use of ARPA funds take effect April 1.
Mustang, El Reno and Yukon are looking for a significant share of Canadian County’s ARPA allocation.
“The cities are planning to complete some (water) projects and they want to know if these dollars are something they can count on,” Anderson said.
“Just for planning purposes, I think – not today, but soon – we ought to be able to give them direction on whether these requests are going to be considered.”
Commissioner Hader referred to plans by Yukon and Mustang officials to dissolve the Central Oklahoma Water Authority after three decades seeking a long-term water source. The cities have declined an engineering firm’s recommendation that they partner on funding a new water plant.
Hader indicated he’s more interested in providing Canadian County funds to rural water districts and smaller communities “that want to do something significant together” on a shared water system.
Applications for Canadian County ARPA funds should be made through the county’s website.