The Park County commissioners allocated $1.56 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to six projects during their March 7 meeting.
The county currently has two separate funds containing ARPA dollars, commission chair Dossie Overfield said, and Tuesday’s allocations spent some of the dollars in each of those funds.
In 2021, the county formed the first fund when it was allocated $5.67 million to be used for infrastructure improvements and Covid-19-related projects. These dollars must be allocated by 2024 and spent by 2026, Overfield said.
In 2022, the county formed a second fund, when the commissioners learned the county would receive an additional $12 million over two years. This funding is tied directly to the county’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes — or PILT — dollars and there are fewer restrictions on how or when these dollars need to be spent, Overfield said. The fund currently has $6 million with another $6 million to be added next year.
The largest allocation approved by the commissioners on Tuesday was $1.2 million to Park County Road and Bridge to buy 150,000 tons of gravel for road maintenance.
The purchase will come out of the $6 million PILT fund, the commissioners decided.
Commissioners said they felt the purchase was a worthwhile investment that would save the county money down the line.
“This is probably exactly what these funds should be used for: future savings on ongoing needs,” commissioner Scott Steward said.
The commissioners also allocated $168,700 to the Meeteetse Recreation District for its community center construction project. The group had previously requested $300,000, Overfield said, but was able to reduce its request due to receiving additional grant funding and donations.
The proposed 6,600-square-foot facility is intended to serve a variety of functions for the growing Meeteetse community — from meeting space to child care to recreational activities — Meeteetse Recreation District Director Brodie Serres had previously told the commissioners.
The community center funding will come out of the $5.67 million fund, commissioners decided.
The commissioners also approved a $67,000 allocation to the Cody Conservation District, out of the $6 million PILT fund. The money will fund a staff position in the district for a year-and-a-half, Overfield said.
The conservation district also requested an additional $15,000 to conduct a by-mail special election this November, which would ask voters to support a mill levy for the district. The commissioners decided not to grant this request.
The district has sought a mill levy at two previous elections, board member Richard Jones said, but the measure failed both times.
Commissioner Lloyd Thiel said he didn’t agree with allocating county dollars and staff time to the special election at this time.
“Whether it’s ARPA money or not, this is tax money,” he said. “I think these guys can spend the next year trying to sell this idea and then put it on the ballot at the next election (when there won’t be a $15,000 cost).”
The fourth allocation approved by the commissioners was $50,000 out of the $5.67 million fund for new voting booths. County clerk Colleen Renner said that the current booths are in disrepair and need to be replaced.
“Our voting booths are from the early 2000s,” she said. “The legs fall off when we try to set them up. We are in desperate, desperate need of new booths.”
The fifth allocation was $50,000 out of the $5.67 million fund to install a cistern at the Powell Road and Bridge shop. County engineer Brian Edwards told commissioners that continuing to spend dollars on a reverse-osmosis system for the existing well at the shop was “throwing good money after bad” and a cistern needed to be installed.
Lastly, the commissioners allocated $24,700 to the Powell Clarks Fork Conservation District for the purchase of four pieces of equipment needed for water-quality sampling. District manager Ann Trosper said the existing equipment is 17 years old and had become obsolete and difficult to repair.
The allocation came out of the $5.7 million fund.
The commissioners had previously allocated ARPA funds to a variety of projects, ranging from the purchase of two new ambulances to the installation of a new county phone system.
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