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Counties expected to get over $30M in COVID relief funds



TX – With about $27.62 billion in federal COVID-19 relief dollars coming to state of Texas, cities and counties are expected to get some much needed relief.

The breakdowns are part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden.

Of that, $130 billion is going to local governments, with half of that going to counties and half to cities and townships, with allocations based on population. A little over $27.7 million has been allocated to Parker County, with Weatherford expected to receive $7.31 million in relief funding.

City Manager James Hotopp said it’s good news for the community, which has been impacted by the pandemic. As far as what the funds could be used for, “at this time, we have not received the funding and those decisions have not been determined,” he said.

About $5.6 million has been allocated to Palo Pinto County. Of that, the city of Mineral Wells is expected to receive $3.32 million.

“Obviously, we were pleased to see that we’d been allocated a little over $3.3 million,” Mineral Wells City Manager Randy Criswell said. “Nothing is ever really ‘free’ and with this funding comes a responsibility to do what is best. Sometimes those decisions aren’t easy ones to make, but I believe we’re up to the challenge and we’re certainly grateful to have the opportunity.”

Unlike prior stimulus packages, funds from the American Rescue Plan are not being divided up by the state, but go directly to those who are most affected by the pandemic.

Governments can use the money to give assistance to residents and small business owners, or entire impacted sectors like tourism and hospitality, according to a summary from Holland & Knight Public Policy & Regulation Group.

It can also be used for needed investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

“I would expect Mineral Wells city council will want to study every possibility for the best use of the funding, and I hope to be able to provide them with solid information,” Criswell said. “Mineral Wells has great need and it won’t be difficult to decide how to spend $3.3 million. We have aging, failing infrastructure needs that can’t be ignored, and I certainly see that as a target for a large portion of the funding, if not all.

Criswell said in the wake of recovering from last month’s winter storm, he would also like to see some of the city’s weaknesses addressed, without adding an additional cost burden to citizens and customers.

Other area cities that are expected to receive funding through the American Rescue Plan include Aledo ($1.09 million), Annetta North and Annetta South ($120,000 each), Town of Annetta ($710,000), Graford ($140,000), Millsap ($100,000) and Strawn ($150,000).

The plan also adds $31 billion for federally recognized tribal governments and programs for Native Americans, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Within that is $20 billion for tribal governments for infrastructure needs and pandemic response, with one extra eligible cost in the latter — bonuses for essential workers.

The far-reaching bill includes money for airports, mainly $6.4 billion for those that have 10,000 or more passenger boardings per year. The money is to recoup what airports spent on staffing and supplies to sanitize, and for debt service payments.