BUCKHANNON – A representative with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office said the final guidelines for American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds should be out by the end of the year.
Anthony Woods, deputy state auditor with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, attended the Nov. 18 Upshur County Commission meeting to discuss the ARPA funds and guidelines and to answer any questions. Upshur County was allocated close to $4.7 million through the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.
Upshur County Commissioner Sam Nolte said several projects have been proposed to the commissioners, but the county has not allocated any non-emergency American Rescue Act Plan funds for projects because they are waiting for the final guidelines.
“We have an application system that we can work with you guys and get set up relatively quickly, so if you do have applicants that want to apply for [funding for] projects, you can have a one-stop shop to look at, approve them, and have the information that you’d like,” Woods said. “That’s been something that a lot of counties have wanted. They had folks and the community come and have requests, so it’s a way to build prioritize and collect that information from those potential applicants.”
Woods also highlighted how important the reporting process will be when they do allocate funds.
“At the end of the year, you’re going to have to start giving the U.S. Treasury some information about what your plans are with this money and how it’s going to be spent,” Woods said. “We’re helping a lot of the counties and a lot of the municipalities with this because you’re going to have a lot of these projects that you’re going to be intimately involved in, so we want to help you get this reporting out of the way, so you’re not bogged down with reams and reams of paperwork.”
Woods said the commission will have to start reporting where some of the money will be going by the end of the year, but all the funds must be obligated to specific projects by the end of 2024.
“I have heard from the Treasury’s mouth that if you spend money right now, on some sort of project or grant and down the road, they change the eligibility because they released that final rule, that you’ll be grandfathered in,” Woods said. “They want folks out there spending the money and using it in their community, but they also realize they don’t have the final rules, so it’s going to be very similar to what they did with the CARES Act. They have different versions of what’s eligible, and you would be grandfathered in.”
He said the commission could go ahead and plan to fund smaller projects but agreed it made sense to hold off on the bigger projects until the final rules are released.
“We don’t know when the final rules are coming out. They were supposed to be available in September but now we’re still waiting,” Woods said. “Very soon. We have heard that they are going to release those final rules after they took the comments from everyone, and they are going to implement the final rules and have that available to the public before the end of the year. I really hope they do.”