The Hubbard County Board approved a policy and application form for distributing more than $3 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) relief funds at their Tuesday, Oct. 19 meeting.

Hubbard County was allocated $4,174,375, of which it has already awarded $1 million to the Heritage Living Campus.

The first half of funding was received in May 2021; the remaining amount is expected in May 2022.

Earlier this year, the board formed an ad hoc committee to help determine priorities for fund use, solicit applications and review eligibility guidelines for proposed projects. Members are County Administrator Jeff Cadwell, County Auditor Kay Rave, County Sheriff Cory Aukes, County Engineer Jed Nordin, county commissioners Ted VanKempen and Charlene Christenson and Heartland Lakes Development Commission Executive Director Mary Thompson.

The program allows individual businesses to apply, Cadwell said. The committee will review applications, then make recommendations to the board.

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Cadwell said the committee anticipates more requests than the county can fund, so they developed a policy “to refine and prioritize both internal and external requests for funds.”

ARP funds may be used to fund eligible programs and expenses incurred between March 3, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2024.

Eligible uses are as follows:

  • Responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, by funding mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, mental health and substance misuse treatment and certain public health and safety personnel responding to the crisis.

  • Addressing negative economic impacts of the pandemic, by rehiring public sector workers; providing aid to households facing food, housing or other financial insecurity; offering small business assistance, and extending support for industries hardest hit by the crisis.

  • Aiding communities and populations hardest hit by the crisis, supporting an equitable recovery by addressing not only the immediate harms of the pandemic, but its exacerbation of longstanding public health, economic and educational disparities.

  • Providing premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service during the pandemic.

  • Investing in water, sewer and broadband internet infrastructure; improving access to clean drinking water; supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

Ineligible uses of the funds including the following:

  • Offsetting a tax cut

  • Depositing into pension funds

  • Bolstering rainy day reserves

  • Making debt service payments

Per federal guidelines, the county policy states, “Care should be taken to avoid creating new programs or addons to existing programs that require ongoing financial commitment. Agencies and departments proposing programs should provide information about if and how the program will be maintained after the ARP eligibility period has expired.”

In general, new employees should not be hired under ARP, the policy continues. ARP also cannot be used to fund programs that have already been budgeted for.

“The primary qualification is that this is an expense incurred related to COVID and not a budgetary expense that you had prior to and will have after this time period of 2021 to 2024,” Cadwell said, with the few exceptions of infrastructure.

Cadwell noted he was unaware of any county proposing to use ARP funds to offer “premium pay” to county employees. “Primarily because everybody can find a much more impactful and much less can-of-wormsy way of spending the money,” he said.

A full description of the Hubbard County ARP policy and related documents will be available on the county website at http://www.co.hubbard.mn.us.

Applications will be accepted throughout the duration of the program; however, a first review of proposals will begin after Jan. 1, 2022.

For more information, contact Cadwell at 732- 2336 or jeff.cadwell@co.hubbard.mn.us.