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Supervisors Look at Federal Funds to Help Imperial County

-Editorial

Looking for efficient ways to use the American Rescue Plan monies to recover from the damages caused by COVID-19, the Imperial County Supervisors approved a plan presented by County CEO Tony Rohoutas at their Sept. 14 meeting.

On May 10, 2021, the U.S Department of the Treasury announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.

These governments have been on the frontlines of responding to the immense public health and economic needs created by the COVID-19 crisis. They have seen substantial increases in costs to provide services, as well as, declines in revenue due to the economic downtown and changing economic patterns during the pandemic. To support the immediate pandemic response, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 established the Coronavirus State and Local Recovery Funds.

The U.S. Treasury launched this much-needed relief to support COVID response efforts to continue to decrease the spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control, replace loss public sector revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs, support immediate economic stabilization for households and business, and address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic on certain populations.

Imperial County was awarded an allocation of $35.2 million. A total of $17,599,44 was received on May 19, 2021, and the remaining balance is expected to be received 12 months from this date. As of June 30, 2021, the County spent $6.2 million to cover PPE expenses, Administrative Costs, Public Health costs, and revenue loss. The total available funds included in this proposal is $28.9 million, which includes the second installment expected to be received in 2022.

County CEO Tony Rohoutas outlined the proposal of how the many will be allocated:

Public Health Response:

$1,300,000-Contract tracing and Case Investigations. Imperial County Public Health Department is planning to subcontract with Public Health Institute to assist with case investigations/contact tracing needs not supported by Public Health Staff.

$225,000-County Pandemic after Action Response.

$3,500,000-Alternate Care Site to help decompress hospitals. This funding will be set aside to cover any costs that may not be reimbursed by FEMA.

$500,000-Ventilation improvements in all County buildings.

$500,000-Purchase of PPE and disinfecting of public areas and other public facilities.

$87,000-Ancillary vaccination clinic assistance program, including equipment, supplies, facilities, and administrative expenses for Sheriff-Corrections.

$633,700-Testing, vaccination program support, and other preventive COVID-19 mitigation measures for Sheriff-Coroner, Operations, and Administration.

$9,700,000-Payroll support for Public Safety, Public Health, and Administrative Support.

Negative Economic Impact and Government Services:

$500,000Promote healthy households environment. The general focus should be to address economic hardship, material insecurity, and parental stress, and behavioral health challenges in families with children.

$500,000-Business process and IT assessment. End-to-end business process analysis and business process reengineering efforts for all County inter-department processes. The goal is to identify and quantify the cost of remediation to the County’s most inefficient processes. The estimated timeline for this project is 9 to 12 months. Additionally, an Information Systems study is needed to make actionable recommendations for the County to modernize, streamline, integrate and enhance the use of information technology, system, and data.

$75,000-Airport Infrastructure Improvement

$1,400,00-Cybersecurity Upgrades, Expansion of storage due to increased data demands directly attributed to the pandemic by having an increased remote workforce. Comprehensive vulnerability management platform that automatically scans all network assets to identify and prioritize the most critical vulnerabilities. This software will be a subscription-based model for 36 months. Upgrade Windows Server System and Switch Replacement.

$1,800,000-Purchase of three new Engines for the Fire Department.

Water, Sewer & Broadband:

$187,000-New River water testing for three years. This project will be monitored by Imperial County Public Health.

$2,000,000This funding will be set aside for Water and Sewer Infrastructure Projects. Projects in this category have to be eligible to receive financial assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund or Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

$1,000,000Provide underserved communities with expanded broadband access.

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