FLORENCE — The Pinal County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to submit a request for and accept almost $90 million through the federal American Rescue Plan.
Officials learned weeks ago that Pinal County would be eligible to receive the grant, with the first half arriving this month. County staff are expecting to receive some guidance on how the money may be spent in July and will present a plan to the board for approval. The second half of the grant should arrive in a year.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill intended to speed up the United States’ recovery from the pandemic and recession.
Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon encouraged the board to make increasing Pinal County’s overall COVID-19 vaccination rate a high priority for the funding. Approximately 50% of Pinal residents have been vaccinated.
County Manager Leo Lew said the county is partnering with Paradigm Laboratories for mobile vaccination units to reach vulnerable populations in the Copper Corridor area of eastern Pinal and also homeless people.
Reveles encouraged the supervisors to consider a variety of other worthy uses as well:
“It is especially encouraging to note that funding is now available so that each board member can selectively pursue funding for critically needed challenges of mental health, substance abuse, family child care, programs for senior Americans, emergency rental housing and affordable home ownership, restaurant and small business assistance, along with investments targeting transportation and water infrastructure, plus other community safety needs.”
Reveles thanked Lew and his team and the board “for your initiative in securing this badly needed early funding.” He also thanked Arizona’s U.S. senators, plus the Democratic U.S. representatives from Arizona, who voted for it.
In general, allowable uses outlined in the law include responding to or mitigating the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts; providing government services affected by revenue losses; making necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband; and responding to workers performing essential work during the pandemic.
Also Wednesday, the board voted to accept a separate award of more than $11.1 million, also through the American Rescue Plan Act, for emergency rental assistance. This grant continues the program funded under the U.S. CARES Act for more than $14 million, providing qualified Pinal residents with up to 12 months of rent and utility assistance.
In other business Wednesday: