The Pasco County Commission has approved a plan for how the county will spend $107.6 million in federal money intended to help local governments respond to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
County Administrator Dan Biles presented proposed projects and initiatives that would be supported by the funds, which the county board approved at its Aug. 24 meeting.
The plan also must be approved by federal authorities.
The county is proposing that about $98 million of the money be spent on these projects:
- Acquisition of the Lindrick Utility system. Using the federal money will enable the county to acquire the system with a zero rate increase for county ratepayers as a whole, Biles said.
- Wesley Chapel Library: This will build the next library that is needed in the county’s master plan, on land it already owns, in the fastest-growing area of the county, Biles said.
- Jail construction: Will pay for changes to the design to address the issue of infectious diseases, not just COVID-19, but infectious diseases, as a whole, Biles said. This expense is in addition to the money that has been set aside from the general obligation bond, which was approved by county voters.
- A super park at the Villages of Pasadena Hills. This is the highest priority on the county’s parks master plan, now that Starkey Ranch District Park is effectively done, Biles said. This will provide a significant source of money for the project.
- A park project in Magnolia Valley.
- Funding for dredging work.
The county also identified $5.5 million in expenditures for:
- COVID-19 mitigation/prevention
- Treatment and medical services
And, under the category for public safety and county operations, it includes an estimated $4 million in spending for:
- Premium pay for county workers
- County facility maintenance/upgrades
- Cyber security upgrades
- Technology improvements
Biles said the list totaling $98 million has some built-in room for price changes due to market conditions.
At the suggestion of Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, and the consensus of other board members, the county added another category to its list. The money will be earmarked to support economic development efforts in the U.S. 19 corridor.
Biles told commissioners that the county spent a lot of time in webinars, on telephone calls and researching how jurisdictions around the nation and state were using the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“Ultimately, we focused, really, on the revenue recovery piece,” he said.
Based on the model that the county used, it will be getting less revenue than it lost. However, Biles added, “ultimately, there are fewer reporting requirements based on that.”
Treasury wants to know what the county plans to spend the money on, but reporting requirements are different.
The money will be disbursed in two payments, one in fiscal year 2021 and the other in fiscal year 2022. It must be spent, with a few exceptions, by Dec. 31, 2022, Biles said.
He also noted that changes can, and most likely will, be made to the plan as time goes on.
Published September 01, 2021