Johnson County updates community outreach survey for American Rescue Plan funding

Johnson County is promoting the county’s $29 million funding through the American Rescue Plan with community surveys and listening posts.


Megan Nagorzanski

Johnson County Board of Supervisors vote on the second reading of the Unified Development Ordinance at the Johnson County Treasurer office on Thursday December 12, 2019.

Jake Olson, News Reporter

Johnson County released an updated American Rescue Plan survey to reach different populations within the county after releasing an English-only version.

The survey, Survey 2.0, went live on June 11 and has been translated into Spanish, French, and Arabic. The county released the first survey – only available in English – in early June.

“The survey is reaching a mostly white population, something to work on with the public input sessions and outreach efforts going forward,” Johnson County Grants Assistant Allison Wells told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. 

The American Rescue Plan is delivering direct relief funding to the Americans and the economy, the plan’s website said.  

Johnson County will receive more than $29 million from the relief plan, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan

Johnson County website states that the American Rescue Plan funding allows state, local, and Tribal governments to respond to economic impacts from COVID-19 including: 

  • Funding for assistance to small businesses, nonprofits, and households. 
  • Funding to aid impacted industries, such as tourism, travel, and hospitality. 
  • Funds for eligible essential workers during COVID-19 by giving premium pay.
  • Funding for government services “to the extent of the reduction in revenue” because of COVID-19 related to revenues collected in previous years 
  • Funding for the county to make crucial investments in sewer and water systems or broadband infrastructure.

Wells said county residents will help decide how the local fiscal recovery funds should be prioritized with the Rescue Plan funds. The American Rescue Plan funds must be spent by December 2026

“People are allowed to select more than one funding priority, but the most popular thus far has been ‘address negative economic impacts,’ followed closely by ‘offer premium pay for essential workers,’ and ‘broadband infrastructure,’” Wells said. 

Johnson County Supervisor Royceann Porter said the county needs to go into BIPOC communities to seek feedback for American Rescue Plan funding. 

“We have a lot of white people advocating on behalf of Black people, but I would like to see Black people advocate for themselves,” Porter said. “They went through the pandemic, a lot of them suffered COVID-19… it was a lot, so we need to talk to everybody.” 

Wells said the county will have public listening posts at the Johnson County Fair, and receive feedback through public input sessions from county residents through a professional service provider. 

“Once the provider is selected we will build a schedule with them to make public input sessions and publicize the events widely,” Wells said. 

Johnson County Special Projects Manager Ray Forsythe said the county must follow all the codes and processes given to them by the government through American Rescue Plan.

“It is an overwhelming process, but I think we have a process of what we are working towards that makes sure that we are keeping the Board of Supervisors up to date and noncompliance with all the rules and regulations,” Forsythe said.

Forsythe said he is starting to see people looking for funding after the pandemic.  

“The purpose is really to get this input from all these different impacted residents, businesses, and organizations,” Forsythe said. “Once we start the input sessions, we’re going to start to see a lot of progress in what we’re doing.” 

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