Tehama County approves partial use of American Rescue Plan Act funds

·3 min read

Jul. 14—The use of a portion of its $12,641,804 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds was prioritized and approved through consensus vote by the Tehama County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Funds must be used for costs incurred on or after March 3, 2021 and must be obligated by December 31, 2024 and expended by December 31, 2026, according to county documents.

In May the Board of Supervisors held a study session to discuss and provide direction to staff regarding the board members' priorities for the ARPA funds. The priorities presented were derived from two public meetings in which the public, county staff, and members of the board provided input on the proposed use of the Act funds.

This was followed up with a list provided to all Board members to rank their priorities in three tiers — Top Priority, Top Priority Probable and Second Priority Probable.

The Board unanimously ranked the Jail Re-Entry Facility as the most important priority. To date the estimated cost of the project is $27.4 million. Locally-designated funding dedicated to the jail re-entry project is $7,648,500. The Board is allocating $3.5 million in ARPA funds to the project.

Also unanimously ranked by the Board as a top priority is the Communication Towers for Law Enforcement. This project included the replacement of communication towers for the jail and Inskip repeater site.

The tower project and agreement were approved by the Board in April and funding was transferred from budget contingency to cover the cost. The ARPA request is to reimburse the Public Safety with $30,099 in Rescue Act funds, an eligible project under the Public Health and Economic Impacts category.

Third on the list is the Assistance to the local Chambers of Commerce, which was identified under the second priority projects. This will provide the Red Bluff Chamber and the Corning Chamber $50,000 each and the Los Molinos Chamber $25,000. These funds would be to make up for the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and eligible under the ARPA Public Health and Economic Impacts/Assistance to Non-Profit categories.

Camp Tehama, located near Mineral, was unable to host any camp events during much of the pandemic. It was recommendation to provide $50,000 to make the camp's operational budget whole and to restore reserves that were depleted due to the inability to operate during the pandemic.

However, Supervisor Dennis Garton reported since that recommendation was made, the camp has suffered a number of facility failures, electric, sewer and water, and may need more funding to be back up and running if at all possible.

Camp Tehama sustains its budget with user fees, and restoration of reserves will allow it to continue to operate without other cost to the County's general fund. This fund request is separate from the donation received from PG&E after the Dixie Fire, which is to be used toward future disaster preparedness.

The Board voted to allocated $1 million each to the Small Business Stabilization Program and the Non-Profit Stabilization Program. It was also decided that the funds be distributed through an evidence-based application process as other communities have seen several cases of fraud in the application process of similar ARPA funds distribution programs.

The Board approved authorization to include funding for these projects in the 2022-23 adopted budget. Tehama County staff will continue to bring projects forward as approved by the Board and to vet other projects identified as priorities.