ASHLAND — There are two strategies on display when it comes to handling the millions of American Rescue Plan Act dollars being funneled into Ashland.
Ashland County commissioners have either spent or encumbered nearly all of its first half, while the city of Ashland continues to wait for guidance on how to use the federal money.
To review, the ARPA is a $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021.
State governments are slated to receive $5.6 billion; cities with populations over 50,000 will receive $2.2 billion, cities with populations below 50,000 will get $393 million, townships will get $422 million and counties are set to receive $2.2 billion.
Ashland County received $5.2 million in June 2021, its first half of its ARPA money. The second half hit county coffers earlier this month, for a grand total of $10.4 million that can be used for government services and replacing monies lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That money must be appropriated by 2024 and actually spent by the end of 2026.
If you’re curious about how much money your community is getting, here’s a searchable chart:
A county document that tracks this money, set aside in county coffers as “Fund 100,” shows county commissioners have spent $933,659.18 so far. The rest hasn’t been spent — rather, it’s earmarked as “encumbered.”
Encumbrances include grant funds commissioners awarded to various communities across the county for their sewer and water projects. The village of Jeromesville, for example, has been promised $500,000 for replacing old water lines.
The largest chunk of money encumbered by commissioners is $550,000, an amount that has been promised to the Ashland County Airport Authority to build a new terminal. Commissioners have already spent $8,750 on engineering related costs.
The county received its second half of ARPA money on June 10, according to the document:
The only money that has been encumbered from that chunk of money is the commissioners’ $500,000 pledge to the Community Improvement Corporation of Ashland. The plan is for that money to be donated to the Women’s Fund for the establishment of a new childcare facility.
That leaves $4,785,185.25 left for Ashland County commissioners to spend by 2026.
The city of Ashland received its first half of ARPA money, $1,061,913.87, last summer. It has yet to receive the second half.
Ashland officials originally expected an ARPA allocation of $3.98 million. That figure was cut in half when Ohio lawmakers diverted funds going to cities with populations less than 50,000 to include townships.
As a result, the city will receive $2.1 million total.
The money, which the city has set aside in its own separate account, has not been spent. It hasn’t even been encumbered.
“We’re reading the requirements of what you can and cannot use this for,” said Larry Paxton, the city’s financial director.
Paxton said city officials have discussed different possibilities on how to use the money. Ideas include reimbursing the city for money lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and using said money for city infrastructure needs.
“So we’re de-cyphering the rules and regulations on what you can and can’t use it on,” Paxton said.
Ashland has not received its second half of ARPA money, Paxton said. But it did receive $4,382.91, a payment made to the city as surplus leftover from other jurisdictions, he said.
That means the city currently has a grand total of $1,066,425.51 in ARPA money.
Ashland is slated to receive its second half soon.
A previous version of this story stated the Ashland County Board of Commissioners had earmarked $541,250 for the Airport Authority.