Benton County targets funding to help mitigate COVID-19 impacts

Thursday, February 17, 2022

On Tuesday, February 15, the Benton County Board of Commissioners approved a Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) to award up to $2.4 million in grants from Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery (CSLFR) Funds. Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, CSLFR Funds were allocated by the U.S. Treasury to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments for help responding to and recovering from the impacts of COVID-19. Benton County received an $18.1 million funding award in May 2021.

Under rules adopted by the U.S. Treasury, the County has the ability to use CSLFR funds for several broad categories including replacing lost public sector revenue for government services; supporting the COVID-19 public health and economic response; providing premium pay for eligible workers performing essential work; and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. 

Since October 2021, County staff and commissioners have worked diligently to identify how to best allocate these resources. Through this process, approximately $10.8 million of the funds are designated for programs, projects, and services that focus on replacing lost public sector resources and addressing critical infrastructure needs throughout the County. With the remaining funding, the Board made it clear that a portion of the resources needs to focus on individuals, businesses, and families negatively impacted by COVID-19.

“It’s critical we recognize the impacts the pandemic has had on our families, communities and local businesses. We must do what we can to provide support and assistance to help with recovery, and the many challenges and impacts endured across Benton County–particularly to those disproportionately impacted,” said Board Chair Nancy Wyse.

The NOFO that opens on Friday, February 18, will enable non-profit, governmental, and community-based organizations to apply for funding. The eligible uses for the funds include facilitating access to health and social services; addressing housing insecurity, lack of affordable housing, and homelessness; mitigating the impacts of the pandemic to education and healthy childhood environments; supporting the recovery of small businesses, non-profits, or specifically impacted industries; and providing assistance to households that have endured negative economic impacts from the pandemic.

The County will administer the NOFO through an online application process, which will be made available to interested applicants by request. The application is designed to make it a simple process in which applicants respond to questions that can be evaluated by the County against the criteria outlined in the NOFO.

The NOFO is available on the County website at: https://www.co.benton.or.us/sites/default/files/fileattachments/board_of_commissioners_office/page/8010/021722_arpa_nofo_final.pdf and provides additional infromation on how to access the online application. In addition, the County will be reaching out to its network of community partners who have been instrumental in providing feedback on shaping this process. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2022, with funding awards expected to be released during the first few weeks of April. 

For questions related to the NOFO, please contact Jenn Ambuehl at 541-766-6257 or jenn.ambuehl@co.benton.or.us.