Eagle County commissioners: Help us decide where to spend federal relief dollars
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program is a part of the American Rescue Plan Act. This comprehensive effort by the federal government will distribute $350 billion to state, local, and tribal governments, which remain on the front lines of the economic response and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Distribution of these funds was determined by population size. Thus, Eagle County will receive $10.7 million. The federal government has stipulated broad categories for which this funding may be used, such as responding to the economic and public health impacts caused by the pandemic and to make necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
The Treasury Department, which oversees the distribution of these funds and implementation of this program, has indicated the funds can also be used to support key government services. These are services that may have been curtailed or diminished due to lost revenue as a result of the pandemic. Government services may include construction of roads and other infrastructure, provision of public safety, and health and educational services.
We have developed an impressive list of projects that meet federal government guidelines and support our strategic goals. Now we want to hear from you! Visit Eaglecounty.abalancingact.com/american-rescue-plan-act for English and Eaglecounty.abalancingact.com/american-rescue-plan-act-projects-spanish for Spanish to learn more about these initiatives and let us know the programs you believe provide the most benefit for our community. There’s also an option to submit ideas for projects not on the list. The comment period is now open and closes April 30. Let your voice be heard.
The intent of this funding program is to support families and businesses, maintain vital public services, and build a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity. Over the last two years Eagle County witnessed remarkable innovation and demonstrated true resiliency. As a result, the county is better positioned to address the challenges of the future. These funds will further that effort.
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To that end, the Board of County Commissioners tasked county departments to recommend projects that meet the federal criteria while furthering the county’s strategic priorities in a meaningful way. With those goals in mind, departments across the county submitted worthy projects intended to make Eagle County a better place for all. The program possibilities are diverse and impactful.
The residents of Eagle County are central to everything we do. Program suggestions that address the strategic priority of supporting our workforce include funding for workforce housing and child care. Additional funding for Mountain Family Health Centers is another suggestion that supports our local workforce.
The strength of our economy affects every facet of our lives and many of the program suggestions include investments in our region’s economic future such as a small business revolving loan fund, improvements to Cottonwood Pass, and investment in improved broadband service.
Acknowledging that the natural beauty of Colorado likely drew many to our valley and is a big reason why most stay, the county has prioritized protecting our mountain ecosystems. A Holy Cross Energy rebate partnership and weatherization and beneficial electrification (which upgrades appliances to energy efficient, electric models) for low-income families are two innovative possibilities.
Providing exceptional core services is the guiding principle of our county government. Several of the suggestions that address this strategic priority include cybersecurity and premium pay for essential workers.
The Board of County Commissioners will consider public input when making its determination on fund distribution.
Jeanne McQueeney, Kathy Chandler-Henry, and Matt Scherr are Eagle County Commissioners.