Commissioner Sherri Washington
BOC vows to use ARPA funds to “put people first”
ROCKDALE COUNTY, GA—Help is on the way for residents, businesses and essential workers in Rockdale County, as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rockdale County government has received its first round of federal relief —$8,827, 741—under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act(ARPA), county officials announced today at the Board of Commissioners meeting.
The county received the first “tranche,” the term that federal officials are using for the deposit of funds to local governments, in May. Rockdale officials say plans are in place to provide assistance for those facing evictions including the homeless; small business grants; premium pay for first responders and emergency infrastructure in Phase 1 of the ARPA.
The funds received for Phase 1 represent half of the county’s $17.6 million allocation. The remainder of the funding will be distributed in May 2022, Phase 2, Rockdale Chief of Staff James Cabe said.
“We’re working to make sure that all guidelines are strictly adhere to those set by the U.S. Treasury Department,” said Cabe. “All three county commissioners have been very involved in this process—in setting priorities on how the funds should be spent. The board will approve the expenditures all the way through.”
Post 1 Commissioner Sherri Washington, said the BOC’s main goal in developing a plan with staff was to “put the people first.”
Washington said over $2.5 million of Rockdale’s initial funding is slated for community programs including workforce development to create jobs, small business assistance grants, helping people with evictions and nearly $2 million for first responders and $2 million for public safety.
Washington represented Rockdale County on June 18 at the Georgia Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee meeting, which was held at the Georgia Capitol where local governments shared ideas and discussed the new Act and how the federal funding might be used.
County leaders said they plan to create a one-stop shop web page to provide more information on how the money will be used and application processes. In addition, the county’s Public Relations Department will be responsible for a media outreach campaign that will include printed materials in English and Spanish,
Post 2 Commissioner Doreen Williams praised the county for setting aside 10 percent of the funding in reserves for emergencies, and for providing assistance to the homeless and to the county’s first responders. She said she also was pleased about the media’s outreach campaign to provide the information about the county’s ARPA plans in English and Spanish
“I think we have set a model for our community,” said Williams.
Rockdale BOC Chairman Oz Nesbitt said that he really appreciated that the BOC worked collaboratively and cohesively with staff members to devise the theme of putting the people first.
“We’ve got a lot to be excited about and celebrate,” said Nesbitt.