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ArticleRelief is in Sight: What You Need to Know - e-PlanSoft

March 18, 2021by Juli Rose

Understanding How the Coronavirus State and Local Recovery Fund Provides for Public Agencies

The next round of government relief has been officially passed into law and the current administration is dedicated to swift delivery on the promised funding. The overarching program, known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), includes a component known as the Coronavirus State and Local Recovery Fund. The provisions are part of the massive $1.9 trillion package aimed at providing relief to citizens, agencies, and businesses that have been severely affected by the COVID pandemic. Not sure how much, when, how your agency can translate ARP funds to modernizing its technology, and how it can access its allocation of financial relief?

Not to worry – we’ve drilled down to the information that affects your agency.  Keep reading to learn more.

A Closer Look at the Resources for Public Sector Agencies

The full $1.9 trillion package is broad and encompasses almost every sector of recipients, including private citizens, businesses, and government agencies. In this article, we’ll focus on the aid, its availability, and requirements for the public sector.

Allocation Overview:

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund allows:

  • $350 billion for states, territories, tribes, counties, and municipalities.
  • $10 billion for coronavirus capital projects that facilitate work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • $1.5 billion over fiscal years 2022 and 2023 for revenue sharing counties, such as public lands counties, and may be used for any governmental purpose except for lobbying activities.

Breaking this down, States and the District of Columbia will receive $195.3 billion. The distribution will be based on the states’ unemployment rate as recorded from October through December 2020. The base amount for each state is $500 million, but no less than the state and municipalities received under the CARES Act.

The District of Columbia would also receive an additional amount to compensate for its reduced funding under the CARES Act.

Local governments have been designated $130.2 billion, to be evenly split between counties and municipalities or $65.1 billion for counties and $65.1 billion for municipalities.

To see the specific allocations for each State, County, and Municipality, click here.

Additionally, funds are available through the Technology Modernization Fund. The Technology Modernization Fund was created in 2017, and is another resource for agencies seeking help to upgrade their technology. The Fund itself is a self-sustaining centralized pool, so although the assistance it provides isn’t in the form of grants, agencies can look to the fund for loans to upgrade their technology. The American Rescue Plan Act has bolstered the Technology Modernization Fund with an additional $1 billion, which will be available until September 30, 2025.

When and How Will Funds Be Available?

All payments to States, Counties, and Municipalities will be overseen and administered by the Department of Treasury. For counties and municipalities, the first round of distribution will occur within 60 days of the enactment, and the next round will occur at least 12 months later. All distribution and expenditures of these funds must occur by December 31, 2024. States may receive their allocations in one or two rounds, at the discretion of the Department of Treasury.

Agencies will need to follow procurement procedures outlined at the jurisdiction to receive funding for eligible purposes.

Is There a Catch and What’s the Criteria?

While it’s great news to be allocated funds to improve operations and service to constituents, it’s not a “no strings attached” handout. Receiving agencies will need to use the funds for a purpose that falls within the guidelines AND must provide adequate reporting to show how the funds were used and the spend per tactic. It’s important to note that failure to work within these requirements will require repayment of the funds that weren’t adequately accounted for within the required guidelines.

Eligibility Requirements

Acceptable uses to meet eligibility requirements for funding under the American Rescue Plan will be to:

  • Respond to or mitigate the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) or its negative economic impacts;
  • Cover costs incurred as a result of such emergency;
  • Replace revenue that was lost, delayed, or decreased (as determined based on revenue projects for the State, Tribal Government, or territory as of January 27, 2020) as a result of such emergency; or
  • Address the negative economic impacts of such emergency.
Reporting Requirements:

States:

For the covered period of March 3, 2021, through the end of the fiscal year in which funds were spent, States must provide accountability on how the funds were used and any resulting effect on tax revenue.

Local:

Local governments must provide periodic reports that show in detail how the funds were used.

Best Use

By now you’re certainly thinking about how your agency can receive and leverage the newly available funds. You’ll want to take the best advantage of the allotment to be sure that the funds serve their intended purpose and can do the most good for your constituents and your agency.

Agencies whose operations include taking in and reviewing plans as part of permit applications are in an excellent position to use the available funding in a way that will improve service to constituents, facilitate remote operations, update and enhance your technology infrastructure, and improve productivity and efficiency. How? By adopting a cloud-based electronic plan review solution, agencies can keep projects moving forward, uninterrupted, and more quickly and efficiently than ever before. This is all accomplished with virtually no face-to-face interaction or physical documents to be passed around and touched by multiple participants.  The cloud-based option allows for concurrent collaboration from anywhere and any device with a secure internet connection. Further boosting productivity, communications are enhanced, and time-consuming lags between stages are eliminated. The bottom line is that agencies no longer need to pause construction projects because of social distancing, so revenue continues to come in. These aspects align the transition to a cloud-based electronic plan review solution with the criteria for the American Rescue Plan funding.

Electronic Plan Review

e-PlanREVIEW® (EPR) and goPost Public Portal allow agencies to eliminate the issues associated with crowded lobbies, paper plans, the need for extra storage space, limited parking, and risky proximity to others in the course of plan reviews and permitting activities. Cloud-based e-PlanREVIEW has been improving productivity for public sector agencies and the AEC industry since well before the pandemic wrought havoc on society and will continue to improve efficiency and the plan review process beyond the pandemic, with or without a public emergency in place.

e-PlanREVIEW offers unrivaled flexibility in the options available to best fit your agency’s needs. It can be used as a standalone solution with the goPost public portal or your own in-house developed intake portal for agencies who aren’t using a permitting solution. e-PlanREVIEW can also integrate seamlessly into all leading permitting solutions on the market for even greater efficiency and streamlined workflows. Agencies using e-PlanREVIEW report that they perform and complete their plan reviews up to 50% faster than they did before adopting EPR. So, it’s no wonder that the ROI on EPR is nearly immediate. From any perspective, e-PlanREVIEW is the best solution to help agencies like yours leverage the newly allocated funds for public agencies. It’s a win-win!

Want to Learn More?

To hear more about how e-PlanREVIEW qualifies for American Rescue Plan funding, contact us at info@eplansoft.com.

Want to see how e-PlanREVIEW facilitates concurrent remote collaboration, streamlines workflows, improves communications, and reduces the amount of time spent on plan reviews from intake through approval? Reach out to us at info@eplansoft.com or request a demo at www.eplansoft.com/request-a-demo.

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