The Texas Association of Counties has created this webpage to collect information and answer your questions about the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11. The act established the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, which includes $65.1 billion in direct aid from the U.S. Treasury Department to all counties nationwide. Of that total, Texas' 254 counties will receive almost $5.7 billion.
The U.S. Treasury Department officially launched the American Rescue Plan's recovery fund on May 10 when it opened a portal through which counties can begin the process of receiving their share of the funds. The department also listed the amount each Texas county will receive and released guidance on eligible uses.
Counties will need a valid Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) database to request and receive payment. Counties that do not have an active SAM registration should visit SAM.gov immediately. Completing a new SAM registration can take up to three weeks.
We are monitoring developments and will update this page as new information becomes available.
When Will the Funds Arrive?
Counties will receive a direct allocation from the U.S. Department of Treasury in two portions: The first 50% will arrive beginning this month, in May; the remaining 50% will arrive about 12 months later. The allocation generally will be based on each county's share of the U.S. population. Counties must spend the funds by Dec. 31, 2024.
The Treasury Department has published its allocation methodology for counties.
How Can Counties Use the Funds?
The American Rescue Plan gives counties flexibility to decide how best to use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Treasury guidelines allow broad actions by local governments to:
- Support public health expenditures to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
- Address the negative economic effects caused by the pandemic by providing assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits or industries such as tourism and travel that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
- Serve communities and families hit hardest by the pandemic.
- Replace lost public sector revenue to avoid cuts to government services.
- Provide premium pay for essential workers performing essential work during the pandemic. Premium pay is defined as an additional amount up to $13 per hour, with a cap of $25,000 for any individual eligible worker.
- Invest in water and sewer infrastructure.
- Invest in broadband infrastructure.
On May 10, the Treasury department adopted the Interim Final Rule to implement the recovery fund and submitted it to the Office of the Federal Register for publication and public comment. Upon publication in the Federal Register, the regulation can be found at www.federalregister.gov, www.regulations.gov and www.treasury.gov.
What Restrictions Apply to the Funds?
While the American Rescue Plan gives counties broad flexibility to decide how best to use their recovery funds, Treasury's guidance places some parameters around the money they receive to ensure the funds are used for their intended purposes.
Counties can use the federal funds for pandemic-related expenses only. They can't deposit the funds into any pension program. States are not allowed to use the money to offset tax cuts during the covered period or to backfill revenue from a tax cut.
Other ineligible uses include funding debt service, paying legal settlements or judgments, and depositing recovery money into rainy day funds or financial reserves. See Treasury's Interim Final Rule for details.
The American Rescue Plan's comprehensive approach to the coronavirus pandemic includes funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, emergency housing assistance, food and nutrition assistance, mental health treatment and much more. A COVID-19 Recovery Clearinghouse by the National Association of Counties (NACo) provides a full list of funding and programs.
Here are links to some key resources on the American Rescue Plan: