Take the Survey on the American Rescue Plan

Guest Correspondence

The American Rescue Plan Act was passed and signed by the president this past spring.  Under this law, the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund was established to provide every county, including Sarasota County, and metropolitan city, funding through the federal government. Residents, businesses, non-profits, and civic organizations should participate in deciding how to spend these funds and pay attention as to where they are going.

Unlike CARES Act funding, this funding is intended to be used over a longer timeline.  It has four broad uses, 1) Public Health and Economic Impacts, 2) Investments in Infrastructure limited to water, sewer and broadband, 3) Revenue Loss by government, 4) Premium Pay to eligible workers performing essential work.

Sarasota County is expected to receive almost $85,000,000.  According to the Florida League of Cities, three of our cities will receive money as well.  North Port will receive almost $8.5 million, Sarasota will receive over $10 million, and Venice will receive almost $2.5 million.  Half of the funding was received by the local governments in June of this year, the other half will be received next year.

Some municipalities and counties have already made decisions on how this money should be spent.  Others are still in their planning stages.

Sarasota County has recently released a survey on their web page dedicated to the American Rescue Plan Act.  In that survey, the county asks your Top 3 areas of interest among Affordable Housing, Air Quality, Broadband Investment, Climate resiliency, Educational Disparities, Energy Efficiency, Homelessness prevention and support, Mental Health, Public Safety, Water Quality, Workforce Development, and Vaccination and COVID-19 Mitigation. It also asks if there are any other areas of interest.

It is encouraging that the county is asking for resident and business opinions.  A robust outreach program directly to business organizations, non-profits, and civic organizations, particularly in areas hit the hardest by COVID-19 should be a priority for all governments.  Everyone is still trying to recover and are still feeling the effects of the most recent spike.  Government understanding the needs of the community and how to effectively allocate these dollars is important.

We are encouraged by the actions of the county and encourage them to continue with outreach.  To the civic organizations, non-profits, and businesses, please participate and let the county know what you are seeing and feeling in terms of relief needed.  

For more information and to participate in the county survey on American Rescue Plan Act funds go to, https://www.scgov.net/government/financial-management/coronavirus-local-fiscal-recovery-funds/sarasota-county-american-rescue-plan-act-coronavirus-local-fiscal-recovery-funds-community-survey.

Christine Robinson is Executive Director of The Argus Foundation.

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