It's 'Prudent' To Wait For Guidance Before Spending Stimulus, Ham. Co. Officials Say
Officials in Hamilton County are taking their time in planning how to spend $158 million in federal stimulus from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says it's very important to wait on federal guidance, and he has a lot of unanswered questions.
"Until we get that guidance, I think it's prudent to go through a planning process," Aluotto said. "You would not see a direct recommendation of specific programing from the administration at this point given that dynamic."
ARPA funding has to be spent by the end of 2024, a much longer timeframe than the CARES Act funding of 2020, which currently must be spent by this December. Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas says there's no reason to hurry.
"I look at some other entities already throwing out what they're going to do as it relates to using this money, and certainly they have the option to do that," she said. "But I'm very happy that we're looking strategically."
Cincinnati City Manager Paula Boggs Muething and Mayor John Cranley have been promoting their stimulus proposals for the past week, despite lacking the same federal guidance. The first public hearing on city stimulus funding will be April 12 and City Council must approve any and all plans.
Aluotto says the county's broad priorities for using the stimulus include job creation; affordable housing; stabilizing the budget; economic development and community revitalization; equity and inclusion; enhancing internal operations; community resiliency and preparedness; and workforce development.
Summerow Dumas says she wants to focus on the basics according to the hierarchy of needs, a tool frequently used in social work.
"If we don't meet that food, that housing, that shelter, that safety, it doesn't matter about small businesses or anything else if people don't have a place to stay, if they don't have anything to eat," Summerow Dumas said.
The county could get an additional $12 million specifically for rental assistance.
The county is planning stakeholder meetings and public feedback during the month of April. Aluotto says they plan to submit recommendations to the Board of Commissioners in mid-May.
The first stimulus payment to local governments is expected by May 11, with the second payment at least one year later.
See the full presentation to the Board of Commissioners below: