Angelina County commissioners discuss eligible uses for American Rescue Plan Act Funding

Angelina County Commissioner's meet for special meeting Tuesday to discuss the eligible options...
Angelina County Commissioner's meet for special meeting Tuesday to discuss the eligible options for American Rescue Plan Act funding.(all use)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:38 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:01 PM CST
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - In the Summer of 2021, Angelina County received half of the total allotted $16.8 million dollars awarded to them through the American Rescue Plan Act. That money is sitting still right now as the county determines how to use it in a way that’s eligible.

In a special meeting Tuesday, Professional Grant Consultant Ray Vann explained to Angelina County Commissioners the eligible ways the county can spend the $16.8 million. Eligible ways include replacing lost public sector revenue, supporting the COVID-19 public health and economic response, providing premium pay to eligible essential workers, and/or investing in water sewer and broadband infrastructure. Angelina County Judge Don Lymbery said they are exploring their options.

“Nothing is set in stone. We are in the first round of talks in trying to decide how to use this large amount of money appropriately. What we are looking at, we have a lot of needs in Angelina County. But one of the things that the commissioners court is going to be so very much involved in is what is the greatest use of this money that is going to benefit the most people,” Lymbery said.

Judge Lymbery said one possibility could be to expand the Angelina County Jail for specific purposes .

“It can possibly be used, we think, for mental health resources and COVID isolation wing in the Angelina County Jail,” Lymbery said.

Lymbery said they are also mandated by the state to keep hard copies of all records for long periods of time, some as long as 75 years.

“Now we’ve got those records in the old jail, but it’s not climate controlled, they’re not protected. They’re not really being taken care of as they should be. And that is something we are going to have to face,” Lymbery said.

The funds have to be obligated by December 31, 2024 and all funds must be spent by December 31, 2026.

“If they were to spend it in an ineligible way, they’ll have to pay it back. If they don’t spend it, they’ll have to pay it back at the end of the program,” Vann said.

The money can be distributed in however many eligible categories the county deems necessary.

“It’s going to be good for the county no matter how it’s used. Whether it is for individual water systems, or it adds onto the jail, or… whatever we do whether it’s permanent climate controlled storage… it’s going to benefit the county,” Lymbery said.

The second half of the money will come next year. Judge Lymbery hopes they will reach a decision on what they plan to do with the money within the next six to eight months.

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