PAW PAW — Van Buren County is in line to receive $14.7 million from the federal and state government to help residents, businesses, community organizations and local governmental units impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

County officials are now seeking proposals on how the county should use the funding provided through the federally approved American Rescue Plan Act, which established the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, which together make up the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program.

The Van Buren County Board of Commissioners will receive its $14.7 million allocation through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program.

“The fund will help Van Buren County in responding to the economic and public health impacts of COVID-19,” said Frank Hardester, administrator for Van Buren County. “Van Buren County Board of Commissioners has formed an American Rescue Plan Act Committee, which meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. and is tasked with reviewing project proposals.”

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law on March 11 to provide support to state, local and tribal governments in responding to the impacts of COVID-19 and in their efforts to contain impacts on their communities, residents and businesses, according to Hardester.

Van Buren County received half of its ARPA funds in May.

“We expect the other half in May 2022,” Hardester said. “Funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024.

Proposals may be submitted to the county now through Oct. 24, 2023.

“As projects are approved, the available funds will be reduced. All proposals received will be reviewed by the ARPA Funding Committee,” Hardester said. “Once reviewed, recommendations for all proposals will be submitted to the county board of commissioners for approval.”

Projects must fit the federal criteria and must relate to the following general categories of eligibility:

Support for the public health response to COVID-19.

Address negative economic impacts of COVID-19.

Provide services to disproportionately impact communities.

Provide premium pay for essential workers.

Provide necessary investments in water and sewer infrastructure and expanded broadband access.

Replace public sector revenue loss due to the public health emergency created by COVID-19.

Forms, guidelines and other requirements for proposals can be found on the Van Buren County governmental website: -2021-ARPA.