County Administrator Jeff Rogers updated commissioners and sought direction in the budgeting of $18,833,344 in recovery funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on May 24, 2022, commissioners voted 5-0 to approve $10 million in Revenue Replacement and $192,500 to connect a Salvation Army facility to water and sewer, and an additional $1,000,000 to fund the juvenile Baker Act facility previously approved in Citrus County.
During Phase 1, $1 million of the $18,833,344 was used to begin work on the Juvenile Baker Act Center.
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law and established the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund which together make up the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“SLFRF”) program. This program provides support to State, territorial, local, and Tribal governments in responding to the economic and public health impacts of COVID-19 and in their efforts to contain impacts on their communities, residents, and businesses.
The federally funded grant may only be used for specific projects, such as water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
Rogers’ recommendations for Phase 2 began with $10 million in Revenue Replacement. The items detailed are $449,260 for technology upgrades for the audio and video equipment in the BOCC chamber and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and $9 million to use toward the funding of the $21 million in Judicial Center Renovations to reduce the amount of the loan the county would need for the project, and also decrease the county’s tax responsibility. The Clerk of Court will receive $550,740 for a project to digitize and restore historic County records.
The Salvation Army asked for $192,500 to connect their facility to water and sewer. According to Utilities Director Gordon Onderdonk, linking this facility with county utilities will also enable properties on the same side of the road to do the same.
Also approved was $1,750,000 for “Premium Pay” for all essential workers, the BOCC, and all Constitutional Officers who were not paid by this fund in Phase 1. For the worker, this means a one-time, non-recurring $1,300 payment. Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) do not qualify for this payment, as they were given separate funding by the State of Florida.
There was a deficit in the funding of projects from Phase 1 due to project cost increases.
Rogers requested $1,394,781 to make up the shortfall.
As the board discussed alternate projects to spend $4,496,063 million on, several projects were considered. The planning phase of the Kass Circle Sewer Project with a reported cost of $1,365,000, and A Salvation Army Community Outreach Center, reported to cost $1,350,000. Other projects that were discussed did not have estimated or stated costs associated with them. These include South Brooksville Qualified Census Tract, Affordable and Workforce Housing, and water/sewer improvements in Tangerine Estates. These items will come back before the board for approval.