County gives latest ‘rescue plan’ update

Bartholomew County government has spent about 36% of the $16.3 million it received in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

As of Dec. 31, the county has spent $5,893,828 of the allotted money, which means there is still a $10,503,981 balance, Bartholomew County Auditor Pia O’Connor reported in her year-end report on Monday. The federal government requires that local units of government have contracts in place by the end of 2024, and that the money is spent by the end of 2026.

The exact amount of American Relief Plan funds provided to Bartholomew County government was $16,273,089, O’Connor said. The county has been allowed to claim $10 million in lost revenue with few strings attached, except that the expenditure falls into fairly broad categories.

However, the county is prohibited from using this money to lower taxes, to increase pension funds or finance general county government expenses.

In her report, O’Connor made a claim for $2,590,885 in lost revenue last year. Major expenses in 2022 that used ARP funds include $908,651 for a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Bartholomew County Jail. In addition, $500,000 is currently being spent to install a sewage system at the county fairgrounds.

The biggest investment came about in 2021, when $4 million was set aside to help achieve county wide broadband service. That was followed by a claim for about $1.4 million in lost revenue.

That same year, $472,500 was dispersed to local nonprofits to help them cover their revenue loss stemming from the pandemic. A small payment of $25,530 was also made two years ago regarding the HVAC system at the county jail,

On Monday, the first significant expense in ARP funds for 2023 was approved. $936,000 will be spent for a new lighting system for the four ball diamonds at Dunn Stadium, Custer Electric Inc. of Rushville submitted the only bid that met the specifications outlined by the Bartholomew County Parks Department.

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