Polk County has many areas where American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds could be used. The Polk County Board of Supervisors has been tasked with prioritizing the list of needs that can be funded/partially funded with ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which are being provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury to help local governments recover from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Vince Netherland said, “If you recall, the first batch of funds we received was approximately $4.25 million. Since that time, we have committed $1.62 million to the recycling center. That leaves us with approximately $2.63 million dollars left with this round of funding.” 

Resolution 57-21 by Sharon Kelly would see $1.1M replacing microwave radio, .357M for a new radio tower, .150M for a new museum tower and 1.025M for a new Justice Center roof, adding up to the 2.63 million left from the ARPA funds. 

The Public Safety/Public Works committee voted to make an amendment removing the museum tower and Justice Center roof and replace the two with $560,000 for a Command Center.

The Health and Human Services committee made a consensus that a Command Center should be prioritized.

The Environmental Services committee came to a consensus to recommend LiDar Software totaling $132,000, which is time sensitive in pricing.

Kelly said, “I think everyone is in agreement that the Command Center is something that needs to be replaced at some point in time. The Command Center today is still functioning. It wasn’t in our longer term plan, but it is 20 years old it should be replaced at some point.”

She said the Command Center could be used for the next round of ARPA funds, even if the funds could not go directly into the General Fund. She said the Justice Center roof is on the Capital Improvement Plan for 2025 and it could be left there. “We have so many things that are on our Capital Improvement Plan, how are we ever going to get them checked off the list? I saw this as an opportunity to take some of those things off of the list,” said Kelly.

She said the Museum is on a National Register of Historic Buildings. “We are obligated as a County to keep that thing in decent shape, Kelly said.

Kelly said she agrees with the LiDar Software, but they were not aware of it until the past few weeks. She said, “I don’t know if the right thing to do is remove some things and replace them with LiDar and the Command Center now? I don’t know if there is a right and wrong in this? I don’t have my heels dug in saying ‘This is what we need to do!’ I think this was a way to generate discussion so that we can make a good decision about what we want to do going forward.”

Discussion took place concerning the Command Center and the ability to use the next round of ARPA funds for it, which seemed favorable. It did not sound like the next round could be used to fix roofs or museum towers. 

Supervisor Amy Middleton said, “Do you think we should keep a Rainy-Day Fund? I feel like we should not blow everything.”

Netherland said ARPA money had to be committed by 2024 and spent by 2026. 

Middleton said, “A lot could change by then and we might need it.”

Resolution 57-21 was amended to add LiDar (not to exceed 141,000), replace the failing microwave radio system and back up batteries on all emergency communications system radio towers (not to exceed 1.1M) and install an additional radio tower to add to the emergency communications system near St. Croix Falls (not to exceed 357,000). Polk County Museum repairs and Justice Center roof repairs were removed.

The amended Resolution passed. Items removed from the Resolution and other ARPA fund interests will be discussed at a later date.

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