Doña Ana County Commission Approves American Rescue Plan Act Spending Plan
The Doña Ana County Commission has approved a spending plan for American Rescue Plan Act funds totaling over $42 million.
Spending priorities include premium pay for essential county workers, flood mitigation, partial funding for a new Office of Emergency Management building and other measures to support public health and critical infrastructure needs.
Incite Consultancy CEO Rosalinda Natividad, who presented to the commission, noted changes to the original proposal, which include dedicating an extra million dollars to a broadband feasibility study.
“We have increased the amount for broadband feasibility studies and implementation of findings by a million dollars,” Natividad said. “This was an effort to ensure that projects that have been identified by IT have a stronger budget and more robust effort to leverage federally identified funds or other state funds.”
Another change is the number of county employees who will receive premium pay under the American Rescue Plan Act. While the original plan allocated $4,000 payments to all county workers as essential employees, the new plan is more limited, impacting approximately 655 staff members according to County Manager Fernando Macias.
“The county manager, under the description, would have the authority to apply these funds to all of our employees. We're just not seeing that that is the trend in terms of the interpretation across the country,” Macias said. “And so, in order to make sure that there aren't any issues in terms of the audit of these funds and the final appropriate utilization of these funds, the more conservative view is to approach it in terms of the more traditional interpretations under the Heroes Act.”
He says Doña Ana County is currently preparing a plan to cover premium payments for all remaining employees with additional county funds. Macias also noted that $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding has been reserved for future project commitments.