From setting both short- and long-term priorities, to building infrastructure, to developing and sustaining projects, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) presents an unprecedented opportunity for Maryland’s 24 counties to strengthen their communities.
As counties determine how to invest ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to foster a swift and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, they must navigate complex requirements and reporting deadlines, as well as ensure that today’s investments are sustainable in the long term.
At this year’s MACo Summer Conference, NORESCO hosted an ARPA forum to highlight proven strategies for planning, budgeting, and investing federal recovery funds, plus best practices for counties to position their budgets and economies to be on stronger footing once the federal assistance dries up.
Carroll County Commissioner Stephen Wantz led the conversation in front of a packed house at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.
Mark Ritacco, director of Government Affairs at the National Association of Counties (NACo), presented a detailed overview of ARPA — including eligible expenditures, compliance guidelines, and reporting requirements.
Kent County Administrator Shelly Heller shared why the County is taking a cautious, deliberative approach to allocating ARPA funds. In addition, Heller discussed how this influx of funds provides an opportunity to expand broadband access, which is critical to closing the digital divide and boosting economic development — especially in rural and underserved areas.
Carroll County director of Budget and Management, Ted Zaleski, said that while program deadlines place some emphasis on speed, careful planning is essential to optimize the value of recovery dollars while complementing broader county planning. Zaleski also shared best practices for evaluating ARPA spending requests, and tips for gathering community/agency input.
More about MACo’s Summer Conference: