YORKTOWN — The York County Board of Supervisors met last night, Sept. 21, for its second bimonthly meeting.
County Grants Coordinator Greg Gillette and County Administrator Neil Morgan gave a presentation on recommendations for the initial allocation of funds that the county received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
ARPA, which was signed into law this past March, allows for the federal government to invest $1.9 trillion into economic hardships faced by Americans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commonwealth of Virginia received $350 billion, of which York County will get $13.26 million split up into two equal payments. The first payment of $6.63 million was received in June of 2021 and the second payment is expected to be paid in June 2022
In his recommendation for the initial allocation of funds, Morgan endorsed the suggestion that bonuses be paid to county employees. He suggested that these bonuses should particularly be given to York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputies, York County Fire and Life Safety, as well as 911 operators.
If the board takes his recommendation, uniformed public safety employees would get a one time payment of $3,000. All other county employees below the level of department head would receive a one time $1,500 bonus.
The second recommendation was investing in a capital improvement project that would bring dark fiber connection to county buildings in the northern part of the county. Currently the three York County fire stations, the Griffin-Yeates Center, 1490 Government Road, and the York County Registrar’s branch office, 6614 Mooretown Road are all connected through above ground wires.
The dark fiber connection would allow for faster internet and communications from the northern neighborhoods to the rest of York County. It would also provide greater information security in all of those facilities on site and as they transmit information to other county buildings.
The project is expected to cost the county around $1.5 million dollars. Morgan emphasized to the board that priority should be placed on completing this project as soon as possible because of the current demand for similar fiber networks all over the country. With low availability of supplies and workers, Morgan wants to approve the project quickly so it is not delayed due to demand from other localities.
“Just about every local government in the country, as well as state and federal, are pushing broadband construction projects,” Morgan said. “A lot of other communities are using these federal and state funds and locking in all the contractors over the next couple of years. So I would like to get this done while others are still talking about it.”
As for the rest of the money received through ARPA, Morgan says that there is not a lot of guidance on how certain parts of the fund can be used. So far, the county has put money out into the community to bolster struggling businesses through the pandemic as well as investing in various other community services.
As county officials receive further guidance as to how funds provided through ARPA can be spent, officials will be able to decided as to the best use to allocate it within York County.
“There are many buckets of funds like that in the world of community services, socials services and business assistance,” Morgan told the board. “We would recommend the patient approach by putting aside about ten percent of the ARPA money while waiting to see how these programs fall out and look to see how we can leverage them or fill in the gaps.”