MANSFIELD -- It's a routine speech aimed at explaining the normal public finances of Richland County government.
But county Commissioner Tony Vero on Tuesday also used his remarks during a Mansfield Rotary Club meeting to hammer home the "generational" opportunities found in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The county received $23.5 million in ARPA funds over the last two years after Congress passed the plan aimed at providing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"These are generational projects that (commissioners) believe would transform our community," Vero said. "We are looking at these dollars from the (federal) government as not just money coming into our coffers.
"We want to put them into projects we normally would not have any money for at this time."
He said commissioners have appropriated $9.5 million in ARPA funds. All of the money must be appropriated by the end of 2024 and projects must be completed by the end of 2026.
Vero told Rotarians commissioners used ARPA funds to invest:
-- $2 million for a project to remove the old jail from the county courthouse that will allow the Clerk of Courts to move into the space and create a fourth Common Pleas Courtroom;
-- $500,000 toward the City of Shelby Black Fork Commons Plaza project.
-- $500,000 toward the demolition and remediation of former Westinghouse properties in Mansfield.
Commissioners have also used ARPA funds in other areas, including $600,000 for retention bonuses for the Richland County Sheriff's Office and $194,000 to purchase four new Ford Explorer law enforcement vehicles for the department.
Other expected appropriations, Vero said, would include:
-- $2 million to the North End Community Improvement Collaborative for a new $8 million community center.
-- $1 million to supply infrastructure needed for a new $9-10 million indoor/outdoor soccer/sports complex in Richland County.
-- $500,000 to help with a project to connect the Richland County B&O Bike Trail to Trimble Road in Mansfield.
-- $500,000 toward an inclusive "community park for all" at Sterkel Park being planned by Richland Newhope.
Vero, who praised the work of county Administrator Andrew Keller in determining how projects can be funded under ARPA's guidelines, said the county would still have $9.8 million if it funded every current request.
"That is intentional," he said. "We wanted to move slowly. We wanted to be judicious and we wanted to identify those game-changing projects that could truly transform our community."