Local muncipalities expected
to be judicious with spending

LAPEER COUNTY — On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a COVID relief package that will provide $350 billion in aid to state and local governments over the next two years.

Early estimates indicate the State of Michigan will receive about $10 billion in ARP funding, with approximately $17 million being awarded to municipalities throughout Lapeer County.

The funds will be mailed directly to Lapeer County’s townships and cities, based on population and poverty levels.

Increasing broadband internet capability to more Lapeer County residents is one area where ARP funds could be directed.


Lapeer County Controller Quentin Bishop said the funds should be deployed to municipalities within 60 days of the enactment of the law.

“Lapeer County should anticipate the first round of funds sometime in mid/late May,” said Bishop. “The funds will be delivered in two portions; the first tranche (50%) to arrive in 60 days, and a second equal portion one year later.”
Bishop indicated that the limitations of the ARP funds and their best uses will be better understood as more information becomes available and is analyzed.

“The U.S. Treasury is scheduled to release clearer guidelines on how ARP funds can be used,” Bishop said. “Until then, the county is not making any funding commitments. It would be unwise to assign funds to projects lacking regulatory guidance.”

Per the established guidelines, American Rescue Plan funds cannot be used to offset a reduction resulting from a change in law. Nor can the funds be deposited into pension funds.

Bishop pointed out that Michigan counties are not responsible for dispersing the APR funds. Rather, the various municipalities will receive their specific allotments directly.

Gary Roy, Lapeer County Commission Chairman, feels it is imperative to proceed cautiously with any spending of funds allotted over the next two years.

However, he did suggest what he believes would be a good use for the financial windfall.

“It would make sense to spend money on increasing broadband capability to more of our residents,” Roy said. “We have a lot of gaps and areas within the county, where people still don’t have access to the internet.”

While there is no urgency to spend the ARP funds, Roy insisted that any money received be spent prudently and for the best interests of Lapeer County residents.

“I can tell you one thing,” he said. “We’re not going to be hiring people that we can’t afford to keep once the money runs out.”

Bishop views the economic benefits of the COVID relief package for the county as being both an opportunity and a challenge.

“Taking into account the fund as a whole and the timeline to spend it (two years), thoughtful consideration will be needed,” said Bishop.
He added that many questions will need to be asked and answered regarding the disposition of the federal funds.

“Questions like: (1) how can we maximize benefit and abolish the chance long term carrying costs? (2) What public issues can be addressed that don’t create long term program costs? (3) How can we be the most responsible stewards of taxpayer money so that ‘the people’ benefit from its use,” he said.

Bishop is keenly aware of the importance of using the ARP funds efficiently and with greatest benefit.

“This is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime source of funding,” Bishop said. “So the regulation around those funds will be a part of the decision-making process.

“Regardless, the best use of these funds will focus on improving the efficiency of government services that directly impact Lapeer County citizens.”

Who gets what?

According to the State of Michigan’s local allocation report, the individual allotments for local governments are as follows:
• Imlay City:
• Imlay Twp.:
• Almont Twp.
(including the Village
of Almont): $681,789
• Arcadia Twp.: $305,398
• Attica Twp.:
• Burlington Twp.: $144,553
• Burnside Twp.: $182,962.
• Deerfield Twp.: $560,834.
• Dryden Twp.: $466,835.
• Elba Twp.:
• Goodland Twp.: $178,519
• Hadley Twp.: $441,657
• Mayfield Twp.: $777,763
• Metamora Twp.: $422,522
• Oregon Twp.: $564,981
St. Clair County:
• Berlin Twp.:
• Mussey Twp.: $404,038
• Lynn Twp.:

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.