American Rescue Plan Act: How much will benefit Jim Wells and Duval counties?

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, on March 11, which contains $1.9 trillion in overall national spending to support relief and economic recovery efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 A total of $350 billion in assistance is being distributed to states, counties, municipalities, territories and tribal governments to cover expenses, make up for lost revenue and ease the overall economic impact from the pandemic.

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American Rescue Plan 2021

Here's how much will be sent to Jim Wells, Duval  and several local cities: 

Jim Wells County: $7.85 million

City of Orange Grove: $280,000

City of Alice: $4.07 million

Duval County: $2.16 million

City of San Diego: $920,000 

Premont: $550,000 

When will the funds arrive?

Payments to each state will be made no more than 60 days after the state provides a required certification; however, the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to withhold up to 50 percent of the amount allocated to each state for up to 12 months from the certification date, according to the Miller Canfield law firm report on JDSupra law news. 

Local government funds will be distributed in two equal transactions, the first by May 10, 2021, and the second by March 11, 2022. Metropolitan cities and most counties will receive their distributions directly. Funds for all other municipalities (and any counties that are not political subdivisions of a state) will be distributed to the states for redistribution by May 10, 2021, and the states must distribute allocated amounts to such municipalities within 30 days of receipt, the report states.

What can the funds be used for?

Funds allocated from each of the State Fiscal Recovery Fund and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund may be used to:

  • Respond to the COVID-19 emergency and address its economic effects, including through aid to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and impacted industries such as tourism and hospitality.
  • Provide premium pay to essential employees of state or local governments or make grants to the employers of essential employees. Premium pay may not exceed $13 per hour or $25,000 per worker.
  • Provide government services to the extent of any revenue reduction resulting from COVID-19.
  • Make investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
  • All funds must be spent on costs incurred on or before Dec. 31, 2024.
  • State and local governments cannot use the funds to make pension payments.
  • States cannot use the funds to offset revenue losses resulting from any tax cut, tax delay or tax rebate enacted after March 3, 2021.
  • State and local governments may transfer funds to private nonprofit groups, public benefit corporations involved in passenger or cargo transportation, and special-purpose units of state or local governments.
  • State and local governments must provide periodic reports to the Secretary of the Treasury giving a detailed accounting of the uses of funds and, in the cases of states, all modifications to the states' tax revenue sources.

What is South Texas leaders' plan?

"The guidelines are specific for these funds and the plan is to bring county leaders together and assess what will take priority," Duval County Judge Saenz said. "The stimulus package will help the community bounce back from COVID-19 to support local businesses, non-profit organizations and work to rebuild infrastructure along with our area's water and sewer issues." 

"I haven't seen local funding like this during my entire public service career, it's a generational type opportunity and a morale boost for the community as we move past COVID-19," Saenz added. 

"The main focus will be to open the dialogue to county residents and involve their concerns with county leaders to come together and form a plan of action," Jim Wells County Judge Juan Rodriguez Jr. said. "Infrastructure is on the top of my list and prioritizing what we can do and make the most use of funds. In addition, create a reachable plan of action, have that plan of action and county leaders be held accountable and ultimately spend wisely." 

Jim Wells County Economic Director Larry Martinez said he's grateful for the Biden administration's support for economic development and looks forward to seeing the funds help local businesses.

"With the City of Alice having an election in May, it is important to be transparent with the numbers, have the community and city leaders work together and move the area forward," Martinez said.  "I would like to see a revitalization plan for the Alice downtown area and see the funds support new business ventures for better economic opportunities and help increase sales tax revenue in the process." 

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