The Bannock County Board of Commissioners will soon decide how to spend the unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime pandemic recovery funds from the federal government, and they have big ideas.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or ARPA, provides $350 billion in additional, one-time funding for state and local governments. The money is meant to aid local governments recovery from the budgetary, economic, and financial impacts of the pandemic.
Bannock County was allocated $17,055,675 of ARPA funds, which was based on the county’s population.
There are restrictions on how the money can be used. Funds cannot be used to relieve property taxes. With that in mind, counties and cities are tasked with finding ways to spend the money that will best benefit their taxpayers.
“We want these funds to be used in a way that will have positive, generational impacts on our community. These funds offer a unique opportunity to invest in our community and enhance our quality of life, but we have to be strategic and considerate in our actions,” Commissioner Ernie Moser said.
Commissioners Ernie Moser, Terrel Tovey, and Jeff Hough are considering several different projects to split the $17 million between. No decisions have been made yet, and all decisions will be made in the Commissioners’ regular business meetings which are open to the public online and in-person.
Below are just some of the ideas being considered.
– Expand sewer infrastructure throughout the county to help protect groundwater and encourage development.
– Update sewer and water infrastructure at the Bannock County Event Center to improve sanitation and avoid additional maintenance costs at the Event Center and Portneuf Wellness Complex.
– Work with Eastern Idaho Counties and Idaho State University to create a partnership for a regional forensic pathologist at the Eames Complex. The Eastern Idaho Forensics Lab at ISU would alleviate the regular cost of sending autopsies to Ada County and would serve the entire East Idaho region.
– Invest in broadband infrastructure to improve internet access to all county residents and businesses, unless the County is awarded funds from the Idaho Broadband Grant Program.
– Partner with Idaho State University to support a Disaster Response Center (DRC) that would work in cooperation with Bannock County Emergency Management to serve as a training facility for first responders across the nation. The partnership at the DRC would position ISU as regional experts in the field of disaster response training, of which, Texas A&M is the only other institution specializing in this field.