County extends deadline for ARPA funding requests

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Groups in Lee County that are looking for funding assistance for projects that will have an impact on operations in a post-pandemic world will have some additional time to get applications to the county.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors approved extending the time frame for initial applications from Sept. 30 to Nov. 1, 2021.

The county has $3.25 million in the bank currently, as one of two equal federal American Rescue Plan Act stimulus payments. The next $3.25 million is expected in May.

Supervisors have already approved $1.9 million in assistance to Danville Telecom to build a $5.5 million fiber optic backbone through the western side of Lee County and down Hwy. 16 to Hwy. 61. Danville Telecom, through the Southeast Iowa Regional and Economic Port Authority, used the money to leverage an additional $3 million grant as part of Iowa’s Empower Rural Iowa Broadband program.

Applications for projects that focus on tourism, child care, or housing can be obtained at www.leecounty.org.

The county is holding 42% of the funds for projects within the operations of the county. Thirty percent was allocated to the broadband projects, with 10% each to child care and housing projects. Five percent has been set aside for tourism projects and 3% has been allocated for funding an administrator of the funding and county grant writer.

That would provide $2.73 million for county projects, $1.95 million for the broadband work, $650,000 for child care and housing projects, $325,000 for tourism projects and $195,000 for the administrator salary. That would represent 1/2 of a five-year salaried spot, with the other half coming out of the Lee County Supervisor’s budget.

The county is currently accepting applications for that position through the website as well.

Non profits were originally planned to get 5% of the funds, but after consultation with state officials it was determined that category wouldn’t fit federal guidelines for the money. However, supervisors are encouraging non-profits to submit for funding under the other categories if proposed projects fall into one or more of those options.

The county formed an ARPA panel to filter the applications and recommend funding to the full board. Supervisors Garry Seyb, Ron Fedler, County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom, Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise and Deputy Auditor Sara Helenthal comprise that board.

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