HONESDALE – The federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) provides Wayne County with $9 million and its 28 municipalities with a combined $6 million, representing a significant financial investment in our community.
The US Treasury Department already paid out half of the money, and the rest is due in one year. Local governments have four years to spend it all, but there are rules that are still being finalized and rigorous reporting requirements.
To help both the county and the municipalities navigate the program, the County Commissioners hired Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, an accounting firm, to advise them. The PA State Association of Township Supervisors already engaged the firm to provide the same assistance to it members, but the Commissioners proactively sought to include and work with municipalities for the greatest possible impact and smartest use of the funds for Wayne County residents.
On Thursday, the Commissioners approved the first six of municipal contracts from Berlin, Cherry Ridge, Dyberry, Oregon and Palmyra Townships and Hawley Borough. Municipalities are not required to sign on, but officials are being encouraged to join the consortium before the first reporting deadline rolls around in October.
Zelenkofske Axelrod works with counties and municipalities across the state as they apply these federal dollars in unique and creative ways. This provides participating Wayne County municipalities with a window on how other communities invest these funds. Townships and boroughs that participate also receive regular updates on compliance rulings and changes in the guidelines.
In light of the historic opportunity this infusion of funding creates, the Commissioners are also working to establish a task force to help the county and municipalities collaborate and coordinate to ensure the maximum impact from the investment.
Chief Financial Officer Vicky Botjer said, “Wayne County has an amazing opportunity, and we want to make sure we approach it strategically.”
The American Recovery Plan provides a variety of avenues for spending the money from financial recovery and response to the COVID-19 pandemic to investments in infrastructure.