Dare Board decides how to spend $7M in fed funds  

By on February 23, 2022

Grant to pay salaries, benefits for several county agencies

David Clawson discusses the $7.2 million In ARPA funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is popping up on agendas around the state as counties decide how to spend the allocations from the federal government to offset losses or additional needs caused by the COVID pandemic.

Dare County has received half of its roughly $7 million, with the remainder set to be delivered in May. And at its meeting on Feb. 22, the Dare County Board of Commissioners was presented with and unanimously approved a plan to spend the $7,188,564 coming its way.

County Finance Director Dave Clawson recommended a budget amendment to pay for the salaries and fringe benefits including overtime, FICA, retirement and health costs of the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Detention, Communications 911 and Emergency Management for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

“These were chosen because they fit the amount,” Clawson told the board.

This money has already been budgeted, so paying it out of the ARPA funds would allow the county to recover the money budgeted to use for other purposes. The ARPA funds are held in a separate account and will be paid directly from there.

Rules for the funds designated that they may be used for infrastructure improvement, premium pay, COVID and revenue loss. But noting that a new rule issued last month holds that every local government “that’s gotten this grant is now allowed to assume a revenue loss of ten million dollars,” Clawson added that “you can make an irrevocable choice to say we had a revenue loss even though we didn’t, and that changes the rules.”

County Manager Bobby Outten summarized the situation by telling the board that by cutting $7 million from the budget and replacing it with ARPA funds, the county can take what was budgeted and use it for affordable housing.

Similar conversations about how to spend the money have been taking place across the state and, according to Carolina Public Press, the reasoning is varied.

Macon County Manager Derek Roland told his board that the county’s most valuable asset is its employees. The board voted to spend its $6.9 million in ARPA funds on premium pay for all county workers, except teachers who have their own Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Each employee will receive $2 an hour for every hour worked from April 26, 2021, through Oct. 20, 2024.

On the other side of the issue is Rutherford County which has made no plans other than to hire someone to figure out how to spend the federal money.  County Manager Steve Garrison has said the county lacks the capacity to handle such a large grant.


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Comments

  • surf123

    Instead of setting the money aside for a rainy day they are going to hand it over to a private party as an incentive to build affordable housing. While it may not be a direct handout it will subsidize and unprofitable endeavor that a private company will profiteer off of. The public (us) always loses when the government participates in Public/Private partnerships.

    The government should not be in the housing industry at any level and this is going to further prove it. Any attempt to do it anywhere other than the mainland is a non-starter as someone will figure out how to rent them out as that is the best use of any housing.

    Thursday, Feb 24 @ 12:35 pm
  • Dare Employee

    Too bad Dare County doesn’t value it’s employees like Macon County.
    Pay a fair wage and we can afford a home.

    Friday, Feb 25 @ 12:05 pm
  • Spencer

    My compliments for the creative bookkeeping folks of the county. Dare County employees must be feeling the love and kiss of betrayal.
    Question: Who gets the affordable housing? The people that the Visitor’s Bureau have sent over here to work for low wages at local businesses or the actual citizens of Dare County?

    Saturday, Feb 26 @ 11:00 am
  • Billnc

    Yeah, it’s kinda ridiculous these folks do all this talking of affordable workforce housing in their meetings when the county employees aren’t paid nearly enough to afford living in this area… The salary study a few years back was a total sham… They classified the area as a “rural” remote area, and used that as the baseline of other areas to compare against.

    Wednesday, Mar 2 @ 12:13 pm