PORT ANGELES — More than $600 million in federal assistance is headed the North Olympic Peninsula’s way in American Rescue Plan pandemic relief funding this year and in 2022, a lion’s share of which is for child care and area tribes, a North Olympic Peninsula economic sector official said Tuesday.
Clallam County is expected to receive an estimated $470 million in federal assistance and Jefferson County about $170 million, Colleen McAleer, Clallam County Economic Development Council executive director, said Tuesday.
By May 31, the EDC will release a pandemic economy recovery plan that will identify gaps in Clallam County that local governments could fill with Rescue Plan funding, McAleer said at a Port Angeles Business Association meeting. She said a strategic plan will be formulated by 2023.
The federal government is dividing up funding according to the counties’ population and the counties’ tribal base, McAleer said.
Funds are scheduled to be distributed by mid-May.
Jefferson County commissioners soon will consider how to spend $6.2 million that they will divvy up from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, with a focus on infrastructure, Commissioner Kate Dean said Tuesday. The city of Port Townsend will receive $2 million, she said.
And a $15 million allocation from the plan is expected to be approved by the state Legislature as part of the state capital budget later this week for funding the Port Hadlock sewer, 24th District state Rep. Steve Tharinger of Port Townsend said Tuesday. Tharinger chairs the House Capital Budget Committee.
At her presentation Tuesday, McAleer said that, over a two-year period, Clallam County government will receive $15 million, the city of Port Angeles $4.4 million, the city of Sequim $1.6 million and the city of Forks $844,000.
“We want them to understand that, as an example, child care is going to get an enormous amount of money if you are licensed,” McAleer said.
“However, if you are the Boys & Girls Clubs or the Shore Aquatic Center, you’re not. So that’s an identified gap, as an example.”
The child tax credit also increases from $2,000 to $3,600 for children younger than 6, and to $3,000 for other children younger than 18, according to a fact sheet at home.treasury.gov. Advance payments for 2022 will be distributed monthly beginning in July.
In addition, children 17 and younger will be covered by the Child Tax Credit, an increase of the threshold from 16 years old.
Presenting an overall view of the EDC’s current efforts, she said following two area promotional videos that existing businesses are laying the groundwork for expansion.
“Right now, we’ve got three different businesses that are located in the county, one focused in Forks, one focused in PA, and one in Sequim that are looking at very substantial investments,” she said.
“That’s always a roller-coaster ride, identifying one thing that’s an issue and then trying to solve it, so that’s been gong on for many months, each of them, but I think we’ll have some good announcements here in the next, say, six months, for at least two of three of those.”
McAleer said in a later interview she is prohibited through nondisclosure agreements from identifying the companies, how many employees they might add to the workforce or any specifics about their plans.
She told the PABA audience that the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund portion of the American Rescue Plan is “huge,” allowing a restaurant to compare 2019 and 2020 revenues.
“You made $2 million 2019 and $1 million in 2020, and you got a $200,000 [Payment Protection Program] loan, you get the difference,” McAleer said, illustrating the impact.
“You get $800,000. You don’t have any revenue loss. As a matter of fact, it could be a big windfall for you because they don’t consider the expenses you would have had in 2020. So, we just need to make sure they all apply.”
The majority of funding is formulaic and coming to the county, but there are opportunities for nonprofits, she said.
“A big winner in this is definitely tribal governments,” she said. “Each of the tribes will get a lot more money than the counties and cities combined.”
There are 215 different elements of funding in the American Rescue Plan, McAleer said.
To find information about individual programs, go to chooseclallamfirst.com and click on The American Rescue Plan Act link for a color-coded spreadsheet on funding sectors, including nonprofits, local governments, care of children, older Americans and homelessness.
“Households will receive the vast majority of funding, from direct payments from [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] or [Women, Infants and Children program] payments, childcare payments, you know, all sorts of different mechanisms through the IRS, but direct payments are going to be by and large the largest piece of that.”
An allocation of $31 billion will be parceled out to 574 federally recognized tribes along with all other American Rescue Plan funding.
Of the $31 billion, with $1 billion being allocated equally to population — a total of $1.74 million per tribe — and the remainder divided up based on population, number of employees and other factors.
The Payment Protection Program offering loans is expected to run out of funding by the end of April, McAleer added.
Clallam County Commissioners Chair Mark Ozias said Tuesday he, like other government officials, is waiting for federal guidance on spending of American Rescue Plan funds that he thought were supposed to be released Friday.
He was hoping Black Ball Ferry Line in Port Angeles, down for more than a year, might be eligible for funding, adding that child care “certainly continues to be a significant and ongoing concern.”
Commissioners discussed the need to tackle homelessness as a significant issue Monday. Ozias added Tuesday that affordable housing and public health — not just COVID-19-related expenditures but continuing to battle opioid addiction, he said.
Dean said the Jefferson County commissioners don’t expect American Rescue Plan funds to be spent “far and wide,” but rather on large-scale efforts.
“We really want to use it on game-changing projects,” she said, using Biden’s broad term for infrastructure to include child care.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].