Johnson County Board of Supervisors discuss future for American Rescue Plan funding

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will hear from the public Oct. 27 about the American Rescue Plan funding, which is still in the distribution process.


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.

Cooper Worth, News Reporter

The Johnson County Supervisors are still deciding on plans to allocate $29.3 million in federal American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief funding after Wednesday morning’s work session. 

 The American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in March, is a $1.9 trillion relief package intended to help U.S. communities financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson County, with a population of roughly 150,000, received $29.3 million from the federal government. 

In preparation for dispersing the $29.3 million, Johnson County Departments and Offices were asked to complete an internal needs assessment to gauge where the funds are most needed, and how much should be supplied. 

Proposals ranged from providing premium pay for eligible Medical Examiner staff to translating services for ARPA projects and materials for non-English speakers, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan.  

 Johnson County Grants Coordinator Donna Brooks said at the meeting that the sheer magnitude of this grant can be overwhelming. 

“This is unprecedented and it’s 10 times larger than our current grant program that is administered by the board office,” she said. “We do not have the capacity to process this and we are not alone. This was a historic amount of money that was provided to local governments to respond to a scale we are not used to responding at.” 

Brooks told the Supervisors her team heard the need for the funding from county residents. The number of applicants for the funding increased from June to August, she added.

“We do understand the needs of the community are urgent,” she said. “I have regular check-ins with the director of social services, and she reported that in August, 101 applications were submitted of which 96 were approved.”

 Brooks told the Supervisors that planning for these proposals is the primary obstacle.  

“It’s very difficult to evaluate these projects without additional information,” she said. “That’s why we like the idea of thinking about them in terms of immediacy, inclusivity, and future prosperity.”

Supervisor Pat Heiden said the board will wait for direction from Brooks and her team before detailing plans further.

The final public town hall session will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Johnson County Administration Building or via Zoom.