Under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021, Oregon is slated to receive $2.6 billion and Monday, May 10, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the specific ways the funds can be used for pandemic relief and when the funds are expected.
The treasury department's Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Plan outlines use of the funds to respond to acute pandemic-response needs, fill revenue shortfalls among state and local governments, and support the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
The ARP, approved by Congress and signed by the president earlier this year, will provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments across the nation
In March, local government officials were notified to expect to see the federal funds distributed over the the next two years.
Columbia County should receive $10,169,151 with a share of that to be shared by the various county cities.
St. Helens expects to receive $2.8 million, Scappoose $1.4 million, Rainier $410,000, Clatskanie $370,000 and Vernonia $460,000.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said today is a milestone in the country’s recovery from the pandemic and its adjacent economic crisis.
"With this funding, communities hit hard by COVID-19 will able to return to a semblance of normalcy; they’ll be able to rehire teachers, firefighters and other essential workers – and to help small businesses reopen safely,” Yellen said. “With today’s announcement, we are charting a very different – and much faster – course back to prosperity.”
The Treasury Department plan
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each jurisdiction to meet local needs — including support for households, small businesses, impacted industries, essential workers, and the communities hardest-hit by the crisis, according to a release from the U.S. Treasury Department. Within the categories of eligible uses listed, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities. In addition to allowing for flexible spending up to the level of their revenue loss, recipients can use funds to:
Support public health expenditures, by – among other uses – funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, mental health and substance misuse treatment and certain public health and safety personnel responding to the crisis;
Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including by rehiring public sector workers, providing aid to households facing food, housing or other financial insecurity, offering small business assistance, and extending support for industries hardest hit by the crisis;
Aid the communities and populations hardest hit by the crisis, supporting an equitable recovery by addressing not only the immediate harms of the pandemic, but its exacerbation of longstanding public health, economic and educational disparities;
Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service during the pandemic; and,
Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, improving access to clean drinking water, supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expanding access to broadband internet.
Earlier this spring, city and county officials in Columbia County said they would not yet announced specific plans for the pandemic relief funding. In a release from in March, City of St. Helens Communication Director Crystal King said the eligible use of the funds would include:
- Responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency
- Providing premium pay to essential workers
- Offsetting lost revenues to provide essential government services
- For water, sewer and broadband infrastructure
- Excludes reducing taxes by legislation, regulation, or administration
- Excludes deposits into pension funds