County approves COVID emergency relief fund plan

Tulare County Says $ 90 Million in American Rescue Plan Act Funding Will Be Spent on One-Time Projects and Support Low-Income Communities

On August 26, the Tulare County Supervisory Board held a special hearing to approve a spending plan of $ 90,552,914 in federal funds.

About $ 45 million of that money was received in June and the rest will be distributed once the county uses that first allocation. The funds were created by a federal program called the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and are designed to support Tulare County’s response to the economic and public health impacts of COVID-19. Basically, these funds can be used for four general purposes:

  • To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses and non-profit organizations, or assistance to affected industries such as tourism, travel and the hotel industry.
  • Respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by offering a bonus to eligible workers.
  • For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenues due to the COVID-19 public health emergency compared to revenues received in the most recent full fiscal year before the emergency.
  • Make the necessary investments in water supply, sewage or broadband infrastructure.

Tulare County’s proposal included one-off “transformational” investment plans to meet the needs of addressing several outstanding priorities in Tulare County. According to the staff report, the county also aims to support low-income and vulnerable communities with these funds. They said the projects and programs detailed in the plan were selected to help all communities in Tulare County, but with particular attention to disadvantaged and underserved communities that have suffered greater negative economic and social impact due to of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The plan focuses on projects and programs that can facilitate economic prosperity in disadvantaged communities and accelerate a full recovery from the pandemic.

Tulare County’s spending plan proposes that the majority of total funds be used for public health maintenance while focusing the rest on community infrastructure and the remuneration of essential workers.

APRA money will also fund repairs and maintenance of local parks in Alpaugh, Cutler, Goshen, Visalia, Pixley and Woodville. A request was made by a member of the public to allow these funds to also purchase properties for the construction of new parks. This adjustment could have helped with the purchase of land in Ivanhoe but was not adopted by the supervisors.

Ivanhoe Wastewater Project

Like many other communities in Tulare County, Ivanhoe needs to maintain its sewage system. The Ivanhoe Utility District will receive $ 600,000 to improve its drainage basin.

According to the project description, the proposed project consists of “the completion of the call for tenders, award, construction and launch of a new storage facility for treated effluents with piping and pumps. interconnection to pump the treated effluents into the storage and to discharge the treated effluents into the grazing areas. The completion of this project is estimated to take 18 months.

This project provides much needed wastewater effluent treatment capacity to the community of Ivanhoe. The district is currently subject to restrictions on discharging effluent from its wastewater treatment plant. The project would provide groundwater quality protection as it will enable the district to meet waste discharge requirements by reducing the nitrate load.

Resident demand adjustments

Since these are public funds and transparency is a requirement to receive these funds, a public comment period has been arranged to hear comments on the proposed plan. The problems ranged from increasing the wages of county workers to building more parks in rural communities.

Jennifer Scott, a resident of Visalia, called for the county to invest more in essential workers. She commented: “Many of our constituents have not been able to see firsthand how our county’s stagnant salaries, under-staffing and rampant rotations continue to affect our communities’ access to essential services and care. Essential workers still make sacrifices to support the county’s economic contingencies, but the same workers who pay the price always with the short end of the stick.

Pixley resident Elena Saldavar called through Tulare County Remote Participation Protocols. She noted that additional funds were needed to support housing in rural worker farmer communities: “We are told there is not enough water to build houses, but these businesses are coming. be a constraint for families too.

Blanca Escobedo, a lawyer for the nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, offered several recommendations. Escobedo has worked with the community of Ivanhoe for almost two years to advance local priorities. Escobedo says residents she partners with have expressed interest in “community resilience centers.”

Resilience centers are intended to be community centers where residents can get several types of help during social and environmental stress.

As an example of Ivanhoe’s potential, she says: “In Ivanhoe, the memorial building, for example, has been a great asset over the past year and continues to be and served as a testing and testing center. administration of vaccines several times. With additional investment, this building can serve as a center of climate resilience, a cooling center on days of extreme heat, and a refuge on days of horrendous air quality, as we’ve seen in recent weeks. As the climate crisis continues, we will continue to feel the impacts we see this summer in the new normal in unincorporated communities. Ongoing investment can support them with food storage, internet centers and places to receive vocational training and other services.

After half an hour of public comments, supervisors closed the hearing. The public’s suggestions were not incorporated and a motion was presented by Supervisor Micari and seconded by Supervisor Townsend. The vote was passed unanimously 5 to 0.

County approves COVID emergency relief fund plan2021-09-07The Sun-Gazette newspaperhttps://thesungazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/adobe-ed-kid_vaccine.jpg200px200px

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