Mobile County officials authorized Monday $58.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act money toward 32 projects that ranged from expanding mental health services for adults to building an aquatic center.
The largest allocation of $7.5 million will be divided among the three commissioners ($2.5 million apiece) to spend within their districts.
Commissioners voted outly released on the plan that includes some similarities in a list that was released in April.
Another $22.2 million of the county’s overall $80 million in ARPA funds remains unallocated. The county has until December 31, 2024, to obligate the money and have it fully spent by Dec. 31, 2026.
“It’s been a lengthy process that required a lot of input not only from the community but the commissioners as well,” Commissioner Connie Hudson said during a special meeting to vote on the ARPA allocations. “I think where we are today is that we have identified critical needs in the community … critical needs this funding is intended to support.”
She added, “If there is one thing we know is that there are a lot more needs out there than dollars to spend, unfortunately.”
Indeed, the county’s ARPA process initiated last summer that there were 214 applications for the money, which was estimated to be “four times more of funding requests than what” Mobile County was allocated,” according to Laura Russell with Volkert, which was part of a team hired by the county to administer the ARPA process.
“We met with county staff and reviewed all 214 applications,” she said. “It was a full, long day of a work session but they did a great job in vetting the projects.”
More than $4 million of the ARPA money was spent on administrative costs. The ARPA consultants for the county are Volkert, Inc. and Horne LLP.
Sharee Broussard, spokeswoman with the Mobile County Commission, said the administrative fee amounts to 5% of the county’s total ARPA allotment, which is “far less than the 10%” that is allowed by the federal government.
The fee covers four years of work through the life of the ARPA program, and involves the following: risk assessment, permissibility guidance, mapping to Qualified Census Tracts, reporting to the US Treasury, contract management with each subrecipient, and monitoring at the level required for federal grants.
The amount allocated by Mobile County is almost the same amount that the city of Mobile authorized last August. The council voted on a framework to spend $58.2 million of ARPA funds toward a variety of projects within Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s “People First” plan.”
Highlights of the county’s plan include:
- $7.2 million on “employee benefits” which included one-time non-reoccurring bonuses of $2,500 to full-time workers and $1,250 to part-timers that were allocated in September 2021 and will be offered against this September.
- $6 million to add 34 adult inpatient beds at BayPointe Hospital in Mobile. There are currently no adult psychiatric inpatient service providers in Southwest Alabama. The new beds are expected to serve an approximately 1,241 patients annually.
- $3.8 million to renovate an 18,000-square-foot building in midtown Mobile to house a clinically managed detoxification and residential treatment center for veterans. This facility is expected to serve the Mobile region’s needs since the nearest treatment facility for veterans is a four-hour drive away. Included in the project will be six beds for clinically monitored detox, 16 beds for residential treatment and eight beds of supervised housing for veterans transitioning from homelessness and awaiting residential treatment.
- $3.5 million to execute a master plan for the Mobile County Civil Rights and Cultural Heritage Districts, including the development of Isom Clemon Civil Rights Park in downtown Mobile and establish a revolving loan fund for spur small businesses to support the district and fund building façade improvements .
- $3.5 million for finance and accounting software.
- $3 million to the Africatown Development Corp. to restore as many residential housing units as possible within the historic neighborhood north of downtown Mobile.
- $3 million for renovations at West Mobile County on LeRoy Stevens Road.
- $1.5 million for additional equipment and training for volunteer fire departments.
- $1.25 million to RESTORE Mobile to assist in building and rehabilitating affordable single-family housing.
- $1.1 million for purchasing new cardiac arrest monitors for the county’s emergency management system.
- $1 million toward an $8.5 million replacement of the USS Alabama’s 79-year-old teak deck.
- $1 million toward the development of an aquatic center at the Mobile County Soccer Complex in west Mobile. The $1 million will go toward the venue’s overall costs.
- $900,000 to upgrade the Mobile County Metro Jail sewer system.
- $200,000 for the purchase of an abandoned retail building so it can be transformed into a public safety complex to house a fire station and a police precinct in Semmes.