August 19, 2022

Group will determine how millions of COVID relief money will be spent

Applications open for county ARPA committee

Plans for a new committee to determine how Jasper County will spend more than $7 million of America Rescue Plan Act funds are finally making headway.

During the Jasper County Board of Supervisors meeting Jan. 11, the supervisors started the process of assembling a committee to decide how the funds provided by the federal government to help with COVID-related issues should be used.

The main item of discussion was what kind of members would be eligible, desirable and available to sit on the upcoming committee.

“We’ll need a pretty mixed group, both with their residence throughout the county and viewpoints on how the money should be spent,” supervisor Doug Cupples said.

The board agreed the committee’s majority should be made up of citizens from unincorporated areas around the county with a few elected officials mixed in to help explain how and what the funding can be used for.

“We definitely want people who live outside of any incorporated area. The individual cities have their own COVID relief money and we don’t want members trying to use county funds for city issues. We also don’t want too many people from the county government on the committee. We want to hear how residents want to use the money,” supervisor Brandon Talsma said.

The board also agreed the county should start recruiting for the committee immediately and think about the guidelines that will be set when the committee is officially formed.

“We need to come up with a list of items and rules that the members must understand and agree to to be a part of the committee. They need to understand what the money can and can’t be used for,” Talsma said.

Talsma also mentioned several cases in various towns and counties where citizens on ARPA committees put together pitches to use the money in ways that were way outside of the federal government’s guidelines.

“We’ll need someone on the committee who knows the guidelines and will be able to inform the other members whether or not their ideas fall into them,” Talsma said.

Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott informed the board of newly released ARPA rules from the federal government.

“The whole thing is about 1,100 pages long, but only the last 40 or so really matter to the committee,” Parrott said. “They’ve loosened the parameters a bit and those 40 pages lay out all the possible uses of the money and all the restrictions, so it’ll be important that everyone involved read those.”

The formation and guidelines of the committee will be addressed during the board’s Jan. 18 meeting. At that time, the board will lay out its individual recommendations, discuss and vote on the issue.

The board also informed all in attendance that any county residents who are interested in serving on the ARPA committee can now apply on Jasper County’s official website.

Contact Abby Knipfel at 641-792-4687 ext. 6531 or aknipfel@shawmedia.com

Abby Knipfel

Abby "Adler" Knipfel

Journalist at Newton Daily News. Currently covering Jasper County and writing passionate opinion pieces. They/Them