Cobb County will distribute $98 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money to nonprofits, businesses and public agencies to fund social services, workforce development, public safety and infrastructure projects.
The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve most of the spending, with Republican Commissioner Keli Gambrill voting against spending federal dollars on community health and housing services. Some of that money will fund mental health and substance abuse initiatives and other public health outreach programs.
The county will also spend $7.5 million on affordable housing initiatives, $8.2 million on rental and mortgage assistance, $3.4 million to combat homelessness and $4 million on food security, over Gambrill’s objections. While Gambrill said she supports some of the projects, she objected to the county providing more rental assistance.
Chairwoman Lisa Cupid called the ARPA funds “pivotal” and “transformational” for the county and applauded a community engagement effort, which determined how the money would be divvied up.
“None of us does the good work of moving this county forward by ourselves,” she said.
Congress passed ARPA in 2021 to stimulate the economy, assist small businesses and fund local government services in the wake of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, commissioners earmarked funding for workforce development programs and construction projects, including a south Cobb public health center and $4.5 million for stormwater system upgrades.
The county also plans to expand the police department’s co-responder unit for behavioral health emergencies and add staff to address court backlogs caused by the pandemic.
The county hired a consultant in 2021 to aid in distributing the $147.6 million the county received. The consultant oversaw a countywide survey, the detailed plan for focus areas, and the application and selection process for qualified applicants. The consultant will initially oversee the accounting and compliance measures and provide monthly reports to ensure applicants use the funds in accordance with federal guidelines.
A detailed breakdown of the projects funded by the county can be found in the Feb. 14 board meeting agenda. More information on the county’s funding plans can be found online at cobbcounty.org/arpa.
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