Clallam County to commit ARPA funds by end of year

County has $2 million to allocate; projects must be finished in 2026

PORT ANGELES — The coronavirus pandemic may be becoming a distant memory, but some of the federal government’s stimulus money provided during the ordeal still remains.

Local governments have until the end of this year to enter into contracts to spend it — not just obligate it — and the projects or services must be completed by the end of 2026, Mark Lane, Clallam County’s chief financial officer, told the county commissioners at their Monday work session.

“I apologize bringing that frustrating news to you,” he said.

Clallam County received $15,020,640 in federal American Rescue Plan funds in May 2021. It had entered into contractual obligations of $13,008,043 as of Dec. 31, 2023, leaving $2,012,596 that has not been formally obligated.

A total of $1,577,441 has been informally earmarked based upon prior discussions or has been obligated by the commissioners this month, leaving $485,155 in unspoken-for funds.

Lane said based on new guidance from the U.S. Treasury, the county must sign contracts to spend that money by the end of 2024, not just “obligate” it.

“Staff will conduct a review of contractual commitments not expended and compare what has been spent to the obligations,” Lane said. “We will review that carefully in the next few months and ask contracted parties if they are able to expend those funds.”

Then staff will come back with recommendations regarding whether that money can be spent, he said.

“I fully expect a few instances of (the money being able to be spent),” he said. “So, we have a potential recommendation to reduce or unencumber to reallocate those funds.”

Lane said the Bullman Beach water system is at the top of the list of projects he is concerned about. There has been $60,000 contracted for project design, leaving $190,000 for the rest of the project.

Commissioner Randy Johnson said no contractors showed up for the project’s pre-bid meeting.

The other issue is the recruitment and retention bonuses for sheriff’s deputies, public health nurses and deputy prosecuting attorneys, Lane said.

The original incentives required recruits to work three years before receiving the bonuses. The county is looking at how that must be restructured so the last dollar can be spent by the last payroll date of the year on Dec. 25, Lane said.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@peninsulanews.us.

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