By Randy Pierce
Several community fire districts and the village of St. Jacob are receiving budget relief from Madison County’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds as a result of action taken last week.
The Madison County Board, at its regular monthly meeting held on Wednesday, January 18, voted unanimously to designate the ARPA money in increments of $60,000 each to 25 individual fire districts including those serving Troy, Collinsville, Glen Carbon and St. Jacob Township.
Formally defined as revenue replacement funds for the fire district budgets, the grand total of $1.5 million, being equally divided to cover all of the taxing entities which have been supported by this action, was originally granted in September of last year as an “immediate emergency appropriation” to help with the coverage of expenses.
The provisions of the ARPA, however, allow for any of that money that was not spent in 2022 to be reappropriated for the following two fiscal years, therefore requiring the county board to move forward last week as explained herein so that the allocated money will still be available to the fire districts.
Another $75,000 of county ARPA funds, utilizing the same procedure, has been set aside for sewer service improvement projects in St. Jacob which are eligible as defined by the federal program.
The source of this support is the $51,078,063 received by the county through the ARPA, the same program which provided personal “stimulus checks” to the nation’s residents from a $1.9 trillion economic package proposed by President Joe Biden to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent ongoing recession.
That federal legislation, after being reviewed and acted upon at various levels in Washington, D.C., was passed by the United States House of Representatives on March 10, 2021, by a vote of 220–211 then signed into law by President Biden the next day which was the first anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The aforementioned resolutions approved by the county board on January 18 were brought forward based on recommendations from its finance and government operations committee chaired by Chris Guy of Maryville and also consisting of Dalton Gray of Troy, Robert Pollard of East Alton, Mike Babcock and Mick Madison, both of Bethalto, John Janek and Bob Meyer, both of Granite City, and Mike Turner of Godfrey.