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Sussex County announces plans for ARPA funds

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

Sussex County will use its American Rescue Plan Act money for initiatives ranging from infrastructure to public safety.

Sussex County Council at its weekly meeting endorsed recommendations made on how to use the county’s nearly $45.5 million in federal ARPA funds.

The recommendations include $5 million in grants to non-profit entities including hospitals, $3 million for IT security upgrades to help protect water and sewer infrastructure, and $1.4 million for eight additional public safety employees in the Sussex County’s Emergency Operations Center and Emergency Medical Services departments.

Other recommendations include $2 million for the county’s housing rehabilitation and sewer connection fee assistance programs, $500,000 for the county’s Kitchen Incubator initiative to bolster training in the local hospitality/tourism industry, and $250,000 for intergovernmental grants for other programs and initiatives for COVID-19 response efforts.

Finance Director Gina Jennings says more than two-thirds of the funds will go to sewer infrastructure and affordable housing.

"To fund county services that are already in place. Our biggest thing is sewer infrastructure. We will help with improving our treatment plans, helping with the disposal of those of the wastewater. So that's 25 million right there. Affordable housing initiative 6.3 million," said Jennings.

Jennings says the finance department carefully selected the specific areas for the funds to be directed.

"I don't want to grow government,” said Jennings. “As the person that's responsible to present a budget to council I want to be able to sustain this moving forward, and not create a program that we're going to have to raise taxes in order to sustain. So once the funds are gone they're gone. We can't assume there's going to be more."

The county has received half of the funds, with the other half expected to be distributed in May, and all of the funds must be committed to projects and expenses by the end of 2024.

ARPA funds can only be used for pandemic recovery.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.