Updated Jan. 6, 2022
The Texas Association of Counties has created this webpage to collect information and help answer your questions about the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021. The act established the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which include $65.1 billion in direct aid from the U.S. Treasury Department to all counties nationwide. Of that total, Texas' 254 counties will receive about $5.7 billion to help them respond to and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
After months of anticipation, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Jan. 6 that it had issued the final rule defining acceptable uses for American Rescue Plan recovery funds. The final rule adopts the interim final rule published on May 17, 2021, with amendments, and will take effect April 1, 2022, the department said.
The final rule "provides state and local governments with increased flexibility to pursue a wider range of uses, as well as greater simplicity so governments can focus on responding to the crisis in their communities and maximizing the impact of their funds," a department press release said.
According to the Treasury, the final rule:
- Expands the list of uses "recipients can use to respond to COVID-19 and its economic impacts – ensuring states and localities can adapt quickly and nimbly to changing public health and economic needs."
- Expands "support for public sector hiring and capacity."
- Streamlines "options to provide premium pay for essential workers."
- Broadens "eligible water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure projects."
- Simplifies "the program for small localities ... including through the option to elect a standard allowance for revenue loss rather than calculating revenue loss through the full formula."
In addition to the final rule text, the Treasury Department has published an overview of the final rule's major provisions.
We are monitoring developments and will update this page as new information becomes available.
Allocation of recovery funds
Counties will receive their allocation directly from the Treasury Department in two portions, or tranches: The first 50% started arriving in May; the remaining 50% will arrive about 12 months later. Each county's allocation is based generally on its share of the U.S. population. (Treasury's allocation methodologies can be found in the "Helpful links" section below.)
The Treasury Department created a submission portal through which counties can request their share of the recovery funds. Counties need a valid Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) database to submit their requests and receive payment.
Questions about the portal or requests for support should be sent to email@example.com.
Reporting requirements and key dates
Counties that receive recovery funds are required to meet compliance and reporting responsibilities set by the U.S. Treasury:
- An interim report was due Aug. 31, 2021. All counties that have certified for recovery funds were required to submit the interim report, which covered spending from the date the county received its recovery funds to July 31.
- A performance report was due Aug. 31 from counties that received recovery funds before July 15 and that have a population of at least 250,000. Counties that received recovery funds after July 15 must submit their reports within 60 days of receiving funding.
- All counties must file quarterly project and expenditure reports. The first report covering spending from the date the county receives its recovery funds to Dec. 31, 2021, is due by Jan. 31, 2022. This is a change from the previous due date of Oct. 31, 2021.
- An annual recovery plan performance report is required only for counties with populations of at least 250,000. The first performance report was due Aug. 31. Each annual report thereafter will cover 12 months and will be due within 30 days of the end of the reporting period.
Treasury has created a video that walks counties through its reporting portal. Watch the video here.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) publishes frequent updates on its news blog. You also can follow NACo on Twitter for breaking developments.
Important dates related to the American Rescue Plan's recovery funds:
- March 3, 2021: The beginning of the funds' "covered period."
- July 16, 2021: Deadline to comment on Treasury's interim final rule.
- Aug. 31, 2021: Deadline for all counties to submit their interim report to Treasury.
- Aug. 31, 2021: Deadline for counties with populations of 250,000 or greater to submit their first recovery plan performance report to Treasury.
- Jan. 31, 2022: Deadline to submit first quarterly project and expenditure report.
- Dec. 31, 2024: Deadline for counties to obligate all recovery funds for specific projects and programs or risk having Treasury claw back the funds.
- Dec. 31, 2026: Deadline for counties to spend all recovery funds and complete all associated projects or return the funds to Treasury.
Calculating revenue loss
Counties may use recovery funds to replace lost revenue. NACo has created a resource page to help you understand how to calculate your county's revenue loss. The resource page explains what is excluded from the calculation and what sort of revenue is included. The page also includes a revenue loss calculator developed by the Government Finance Officers Association.
Download the calculator here.
The American Rescue Plan gives counties flexibility to decide how best to use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to meet the needs of their communities. Treasury guidelines allow broad actions by local governments to:
- Support the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Address the negative economic effects caused by COVID-19 by aiding workers and families, small businesses, nonprofits or industries such as tourism and travel that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
- Replace lost public sector revenue. (See above.)
- Provide premium pay for 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.
Infrastructure improvement is a major focus of the American Rescue Plan. Counties may use their recovery funds for maintenance of infrastructure or pay-as-you-go spending for new infrastructure, within certain parameters. Under the proposed rules, capital improvements relating to infrastructure are limited to water, sewer and broadband internet projects.
While the American Rescue Plan gives counties broad flexibility to decide how best to use their recovery funds, Treasury's guidance lists a few restrictions to ensure counties are using the recovery funds for their intended purposes.
Counties can't deposit the funds into a pension program. Other ineligible uses include funding debt service, paying legal settlements or judgments, and depositing recovery money into rainy day funds or financial reserves.
States are not allowed to use the money to offset tax cuts during the covered period or to backfill revenue from a tax cut.
Key resources and guidance on the American Rescue Plan: