Jul. 1—After the Board of Cleveland County Commissioners approved receipt of the first half of its American Rescue Plan Act funds Thursday, commissioners are preparing to host community meetings for feedback on how to spend it.
During a special meeting Thursday, the BOCC approved $27,583,195 in ARPA money as cash fund appropriations.
Norman Resident Cynthia Rogers asked the board if it intended to hold public meetings.
Chair Darry Stacy told The Transcript the county hired Melissa Houston of 929 Strategies, who has recommended several public meetings to explore possible uses for the funds. The deadline for the BOCC to turn in its expenditure plan to the U.S. Department of the Treasury is Aug. 31.
"It's going to be public forums — we're going to bring in stakeholders and give everyone the ability to give us their ideas and thoughts moving forward on this," Stacy said. "It's still in the planning stage, but the thought is that we will get general ideas first, and the thought is that we will then narrow those down and bring in more specific stakeholders to those specific areas."
Stacy noted the commission's spending will be limited to the confines of the Department of the Treasury's guidelines, which are still being finalized.
"We are under very specific rules for these funds, and though I encourage all kinds of great ideas and thinking outside the box, even some of the outside-the-box thinking we've had at this point we have found is not going to be eligible under this," Stacy said. "Please, don't be discouraged. We still want people to give those ideas and thoughts, but the rules are going to be very specific."
County spokesperson Joy Hampton said notice of the meetings will be posted online and provided to The Transcript.
A website with information about the proposed use of those funds and the executive plan will be published, Hampton said.
Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at email@example.com or 405-416-4420.