AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A number of new projects will be conducted throughout Potter County through the county’s use of its allotment of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), provided by the US Department of the Treasury under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
According to the US Treasury Department’s website, Potter County received $22,806,487 under the SLFRF program as part of the $350 billion state, local and Tribal governments received through the program. The department said the money received by entities can be used for various projects that fall under these “eligible use categories:”
- Replace lost public sector revenue;
- Respond to the far-reaching public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic;
- Provide premium pay for essential workers;
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Officials went on to say that the funds can also be used to expand the workforce and provide competitive wages, expand access to affordable housing and help provide funds to keep families and communities safe, according to the department.
Officials with the county said the court initially approved 11 projects with the funds, costing around $8.5 million. During Monday’s regular meeting of the Potter County Commissioners’ Court, the court unanimously approved 12 other projects, costing around $7.7 million in additional funds from the SLFRF, recommended by the county’s ARPA committee.
The following projects funded by the SLFRF funds were approved by the Potter County Commissioners’ Court on Monday:
- Hands-free scanner for the Potter County Detention Center
- Estimated Cost: $227,114
- The county will use this full-body scanner to search individuals coming into the detention center for weapons and/or contraband while measuring their body temperature, which could indicate whether or not the person has a transmissible disease, protecting staff and the person being screened in the process.
- Enhancement of Public Records Access Project
- Estimated Cost: $3,100,000
- This project will give the chance for the paper records kept by Potter County, the District Clerk’s office and the county’s Records Management department which have yet to be digitized to be scanned and converted digitally. This will give the county the chance to share the documents electronically with residents when they are requested.
- Charitable Nonprofit Grant Program
- Estimated Cost: $1,000,000
- This program will give Potter County the chance to provide funding to nonprofits within the county that serve the essential needs of residents. Categories of funding for the program include human services, justice services, community services and health services.
- Demolition of DOT facility/development of open space
- Estimated Cost: $140,000
- Potter County plans to tear down its DOT facility, helping enhance that part of the community’s appearance, going along with the city of Amarillo’s planned city transit depot and a temporary housing facility planned for the area. The plan is for the county to develop a xeriscape open-space park in the place where the DOT facility was located.
- St. Anthony’s Low-Income Housing Greenspace Project
- Estimated Cost $75,000
- As part of the development of a new low-income, senior living facility on the grounds of the former St. Anthony’s Hospital, developing a new greenspace on the site of the center’s abandoned surgical center. Officials said this greenspace is expected to benefit the residents of the senior living facility along with North Heights residents who live nearby.
- Mental Health Training for Public Safety Responders
- Estimated Cost: $10,000
- The goal of this project is to provide Potter County first responders, including personnel from the Potter County Sheriff’s Office, firefighters along with correctional and detention officers, with training on how they can handle their interactions with those who have mental disorders more safely and effectively.
- Single Audit Act Compliance (FY22)
- Estimated Cost: $10,000
- These funds are expected to cover the costs for Potter County to perform an audit of the federal funds the county uses of the SLFRF throughout the fiscal year.
- Public Safety at the County’s Polling Sites
- Estimated Cost: $18,250
- These funds were used to cover the costs of keeping off-duty officers at each of the polling sites during every hour of operation the sites were open to the public during the November 2022 elections.
- Outdoor Warning Siren Enhancement
- Estimated Cost: $86,000
- This project will allow Potter County to install two new outdoor warning sirens in two underserved, unincorporated high-growth areas of the county.
- New Vehicle for Precinct Three Constable
- Estimated Cost: $69,000
- The goal of this item is to provide the Precinct Three Constable with a new vehicle to properly carry out the office’s duties for the next five years.
- Modernize Public Records Management
- Estimated Cost: $30,000
- This project will give the county the chance to update public records equipment and software to modernize the county’s public records management.
- Spending on Government Services (FY 23)
- Estimated Cost: $3,000,000
- Because of ongoing economic turmoil, Potter County is earmarking SLFRF resources to fill projected budget gaps in the next fiscal year, helping ensure the county’s ability to deliver government services “without degradation.”
John Kiehl, the consultant who presented this information to the Potter County Commissioners’ Court during Monday’s meeting, said after these projects, more than $6 million remains for additional projects identified by the ARPA Committee that fit within the SLFRF parameters.
Kiehl stressed that if any of the money is not needed for the projects already approved, the funds can go back into the county’s remaining SLFRF funds. Kiehl said that the money is required to be allocated by the end of 2024 and is required to be spent by the end of 2026.