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Questions how commissioners allocate ARPA funds to special purpose districts

January 28, 2022

It is interesting that Boundary County Commissioners may have not notified all of the various special purpose districts about the availability of American Recovery Protection Act (ARPA) funds available to them. ARPA funds were disbursed by the federal government to the states, who, in turn, distributed portions of these funds to their respective counties with the stipulation that portions could be shared with special purpose districts.

Cities received theirs directly from the state. Special purpose districts here in Boundary County are ambulance, drainage, fire, library, school, translator and water districts.

I am aware of some of the needs that these various districts have, which qualify under the usage clauses of ARPA funds. I was surprised to see that the only published applicant, that I am aware of, is the ambulance district.

What I would like to know is:
  1) How much ARPA funding did Boundary County receive from the state?
  2) Of these funds, how much is Boundary County allocating to our special purpose districts?
  3) What process/priority will Boundary County Commissioners use to allocate these funds?

It appears to me that this process, thus far, has not been nearly as transparent as it should be.

I did vote "Yes" for the ambulance levy last November, but the measure did not pass with the majority required. That levy was for equipping and staffing Advanced Life Support (ALS) capability. What I question is whether we need to purchase an ALS-capable ambulance given that the ambulance district levy failed. This gives the appearance that they may be circumventing the settled election by applying for a lion's share of available ARPA funding available from the county. To be specific, the ambulance district is requesting $260,000 in ARPA-earmarked funding.

What about the needs of our other special purpose districts? I could name specific, qualifying needs of some of those districts, but I will not identify them here as to (pro or con) bias the process. Districts with needs...get your applications in now!

A whole lot of misinformation is being spread out there about federal mandates attached to the use of these funds. It appears to me that a lot of the newcomers here, who are currently being disruptive at commissioner/council/board meetings, don't realize that they moved to a county that is about 75-percent owned by the federal government.

We cooperate with them (the feds) and they are our partners. To those extremists, I might remind them not to disrupt, especially after having just participated in the "Pledge of Allegiance!"
Gerald B. Higgs
Bonners Ferry

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