Franklin County Economic Development Commission president John Palmer presented an update on the county's American Recovery Act (ARPA) funds at Franklin County Council's July 26 meeting.

Palmer reported the county has received its second installment of funding through the program and after subtracting the projects the county has already approved, this leaves around $1.9 million available. Palmer presented council with a preview of projects he plans to bring in August for approval, giving council members time to review the proposals.

Council had previously approved the purchase of new radios for the Metamora Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD), one of the first proposals funded from the county's ARPA funds. The department has received a $6,289 invoice for the radios, but due to the tight restrictions of ARPA's federal funds, the county has been advised against forwarding the money to the fire department. 

The county has contracted with Reedy Financial Group to help manage its ARPA funds and advise the county on the restrictions and requirements of the money. Franklin County auditor Karla Bauman explained Reedy has advised the county not to give any money to a non-profit group without a System for Award Management (SAM) number issued by the federal government. While MVFD had previously had a SAM number, it has expired and the department is having difficulty processing the renewal. Bauman suggested the county go ahead and pay the invoice and work on trying to get the expense through ARPA afterward. Council member Joe Gillespie made a motion to pay the invoice out of council's contingency budget. Council member Brian Patterson seconded the motion and council voted to approve the invoice. 

Also discussed:
-Franklin County Health Department supervising nurse Nanette Beres provided an update to council with the department's goal of improving the county's lagging vaccination rates. Childhood vaccinations, as well as tetanus and flu vaccines for adults, are behind the state average and Beres hopes offering expanded hours will help raise the county's numbers. The plan is to offer vaccinations one evening each week and weekend hours once a month. Beres is working on a plan to increase staffing and equipment purchases and repairs to support that goal.

-Council approved an additional appropriation of $189,260 for the county's capital improvement bond payment. Council president Jeff Koch explained the payment is due in January 2023; the additional appropriation moves that payment up to December 2022 in order to ensure the payment is processed, as advised by Reedy. The additional appropriation is moving money that would have been budgeted for 2023 into this year's budget; it will not cost the county additional money.

-Bauman reported the county still has $213,104 left in the capital improvement bond from 2020 to be spent. Patterson inquired into the reason for the extra funding. Bauman replied upgrades in the area plan office were budgeted under multiple lines and laptops budgeted in the improvement grant were purchased using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act funding.

-Council discussed 2023 funding from the public safety local option income tax (PSLOIT). The tax revenue is restricted by state code and typically used to fund local public safety operations including police, emergency medical services, 911 and fire departments. Eligible local agencies can submit a request for funding from the county's PSLOIT each year to be reviewed by council in a public hearing. Council must publish public notification of those requests before the hearing and advertise the amount of money being considered. 

Council can choose to approve the advertised amount, a reduced amount, or nothing at all, but it cannot approve any amount of money in excess of the advertised amount. Council chose to advertise for the public hearing the full amount requested by each agency. Patterson emphasized council is under no obligation to fund the amounts advertised.