October 22, 2021

Letter: Public should be more included in ARP money talks

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) was passed on March 11, 2021. It sent relief monies to state and local governments. Here in Adair County the money received will come in two different payments. A variety of regulations for how that money can be spent are included in the ARP.

It is time for the Adair County Board of Supervisors to include the general public more intentionally in determining the best uses for this money. As a start, they should hold a general meeting in order to share information and to listen to public comment.

A number of questions need to be answered by the supervisors:

How much money is coming to Adair County from the American Rescue Plan?

For what can the money be spent, as well as NOT spent?

Are there deadlines by when the money has to be spent?

Is there a county economic development plan that can help as a guide for spending the money?

If the county is going to  grants funds to agencies or organizations, how would the eligibility for the grants be determined?

If using a grant-making process, will these be matching grants or a total grant of money?

If grants are going to be made, is there a written form so that all entities requesting grants are expected to give the same information?

Who will make decisions about grant awards—only the supervisors or a committee that they select?

The most transparent way to handle money coming to the county via the American Rescue Plan is to communicate openly and with as much information as possible. These funds have the potential to make positive contributions to many projects of various organizations, clubs, agencies and other groups and many will want to know how to participate. The supervisors can show that they value the input of folks in Adair County by giving them the chance to share their ideas at a community meeting on the American Rescue Plan funds. Remembering that there may be more funding, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds, it is important to establish an open and transparent communication between the supervisors and the community. A general meeting for the public would be a good start.