Federal budget expands what York County can spend COVID aid money on

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York City and York County received a combined $122 million in federal COVID relief funding via the American Rescue Plan Act that can be used for a wide variety of projects.

Changes to federal regulation have expanded what kinds of projects local governments can use the funding for. That included $35.3 million for the city and $87 million for the county.

As part of the 2023 federal budget, state and local governments are now allowed to use $10 million or 30% of their ARPA allotment, whichever is greater, toward federal grants for road and transportation projects.

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The new spending options will be available in late February when the Treasury updates its guidelines. ARPA funding must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

“I think it supercharges the ARPA dollars to be as productive as possible,” Brittney Kohler, legislative director for transportation and infrastructure at the National League of Cities, told the Associated Press. "We see this as a really valuable tool to make the most of every federal dollar.”

Local officials, however, say much of the money has already been allocated. While the expansion is welcome, the changes likely won't substantially impact their current spending priorities.

York County has already allocated its share of ARPA funding, according to Chief Clerk Greg Monskie. That includes $20.1 million toward grant funding for small businesses and nonprofits, $25 million toward broadband, of which $500,000 has been distributed, and $40 million toward revenue replacement for the county itself. The county's ARPA plan also accounts for $2.2 million in administrative costs.

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York City Interim Business Administrator Kim Robertson said the city was in the process of updating its records through the end of 2022; once that is completed, the finance office could give an accurate number on how much of the ARPA funding had been allocated.

York City City Council President Sandie Walker during a Flag Day Celebration at Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden in York City, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Reached Friday, City Council President Sandie Walker said the new guidelines likely wouldn't affect how the city allocates and spends its allotment of ARPA funding.

"If anything, with the updated guidelines, it gives more flexibility," Walker said.

At the City Council's next committee meeting, one item on the agenda will discuss ARPA funding.

That item includes spending $1 million on the Codorus Creek project and Market Street bridge; $2.5 million on roofing replacements; $277,000 on lighting replacements for the city's softball fields; and $1.8 million for York City Police.

Items on a committee meeting agenda must be voted on before they can be placed on a council agenda.

The City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the York City Council Chambers at city hall, 101 S. George St. The meeting will be streamed on White Rose Community TV's YouTube channel and on the City of York's Facebook page.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.