ARP Allocations Delayed Due to Wealth Losses – Park Rapids Enterprise

Hubbard County is suspending distribution of more than $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) relief funds.

The deferral is due to operational losses at the county-owned nursing facility, the Heritage Living Campus, for which the county is financially responsible.

County commissioners discussed the issue during their February 1 working session.

14 grant applications Hubbard County received $4,174,375 in state and local coronavirus fiscal stimulus funds (SLRFF), part of the ARP. The county council awarded Heritage $1 million in 2021, leaving $3,174,375.

Last year, Hubbard County Council formed an ad hoc committee to help determine priorities for the use of funds, solicit applications and review eligibility criteria for proposed projects.

The first half of the funding was received in May 2021; the remaining amount is expected in May 2022.

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell reported Tuesday that the county had received 14 grant applications, totaling more than $7.5 million.

Cadwell said the committee met on Jan. 25, reviewed the applications and reached consensus on how to allocate the funds.

The towns of Akeley and Park Rapids have submitted infrastructure proposals, he noted. Akeley would use his $70,000 request to improve public facilities at the trailhead in Paul Bunyan City Park. Another $350,000 would be used for emergency repairs to the water tower and proposed upgrades to the sewage lift station.

Park Rapids requested $1,338,628 for the reconstruction and widening of Fair Avenue.

The Heartland Lakes Development Commission (HLDC) has requested $1,600,000 for the development of an affordable housing development in Park Rapids for 50 households. HLDC also requested $996,800 for a Hubbard County homeowner rehabilitation program.

The Hubbard County Solid Waste Department is seeking $563,000 for the partial closure of the South Transfer Station Demonstration Landfill. The goal of the project is to minimize impacts on groundwater.

The county highway department requested $539,220 to rebuild 10 miles of CSAH 16, from the U.S. Highway. 71 at the Cass County line.

The sheriff’s office wants $330,000 to replace aging two-way emergency radios, 35 mobile and 35 portable.

The City of Nevis requested $108,636 to replace 250 water meters and readers.

The other applicants were MAHUBE-OTWA ($489,998 for mental health services), Family Safety Network ($60,000 for domestic violence intervention), Lakes Area Dive Team ($85,000 for a remote control vehicle) and Trinity Lutheran Church of Laporte ($47,642 for an air exchange/management system).

Cadwell noted that federal guidelines allow up to $10 million to be used for revenue recovery due to the pandemic, so the grants would be considered general government expenditures from Hubbard County funds.

Possible Revolving Loan Fund The committee identified some requests to receive FSLFR and “other” funding.

Cadwell explained that Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline will add to the new 2022 construction tax capacity, which the county can capture and use to create a revolving loan fund that would be helpful for some of the projects.

“We were all relatively happy to have shared money. We spread it all over the county,” Cadwell said.

But then the significant operating deficit of the Heritage Living Campus came to the fore.

Heritage requested another million dollars from the SLFRF.

“It’s either our problem with those funds or our problem with drawdowns and fund balances,” Cadwell said. “So management really needed to hold off on allocating that $3 million until we understood the full impact of lost revenue at the Heritage Living Center.”

Cadwell said all applicants were notified of the delay.

James V. Hayes