GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Board of Commissioners is asking to help “identify community spending priorities” for the $127.6 million in coronavirus relief funding that the county received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
“With the CARES Act funding, we had money that we were expected to get out there really fast to help keep families and businesses afloat. This (American Rescue Plan) money came with a different message. It was: take your time, think carefully about the types of investments that could really benefit the people of Kent County well into the future,” Al Vanderberg, Kent County administrator and controller, explained to News 8.
A video has been posted on the county’s YouTube page that gives an overview of the ARPA funding.
“We know that we have a lot of divergent viewpoints, we have a lot of great ideas out there. There may be some things that are transformational that in our smaller circle, we haven’t thought of,” Vanderberg said. “…We want to hear from people and hear what their ideas are and what they’re thinking in terms of transformation.”
Over the next few weeks, Kent County will be holding three community forums for residents to be able to learn more about ARPA funding eligibility and priorities.
“Some people would prefer to show up and hear what other people are saying and give their input,” Vanderberg said.
The forums will be held the following days and locations from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.:
- June 2 at the Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Ave. NE. This event will be live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page.
- June 6 at Rockford High School at 4100 Kroes St. NE, in the Creative Teaching and Learning Center.
- June 8 in Gains Charter Township at 8555 Kalamazoo Ave. SE.
The county has created an online 10-minute survey for residents to share their opinions and submit ideas. The survey is offered in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Vietnamese. It closes on June 24. To fill out the survey, click here.
The county has also created a way for people in charge of a specific proposal to submit funding requests.
“Applicants will be asked a series of questions about the work or project they’d like funded, including how their project will benefit the community, project costs and organizational capacity,” the county said in a press release.
The proposal form is offered in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Vietnamese. It closes July 15. To fill out a proposal, click here.
Once the ideas are submitted, Guidehouse, a consulting firm the county has contracted, will make sure that the funds can be used for the proposed projects. Once the project is given the OK, the county will determine the priority projects.
“The Board will then appropriate funding to support transformational initiatives that will build a better future for our community,” the county said in a press release.
The county has until Dec. 31, 2024, to commit the ARPA funding to specific projects and until December 2026 to spend the money. For more information, visit KentCountyARPA.com.