EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire County Finance and Budget Committee approved a budget transfer Monday of $787,439 to fund high-priority capital projects. Sources of the money include remaining 2019 and 2020 bond funds, the Information Systems department and “other accumulated surplus.”
The money will go toward 17 projects, which include upgrading Wi-Fi security, improvements to carpeting at the Eau Claire County Courthouse and replacing a dock at Lake Altoona. The most expensive project is replacing a pavilion at Harstad County Park, which is expected to cost $200,000. The park is located about halfway between Augusta and Fall Creek.
The second-highest price is for replacing highway radios, which is estimated to cost $197,490; that will be paid for by the Highway Department.
The budget transfer requires final approval from the County Board at its meeting next week.
County Finance Director Norb Kirk said some projects might fall under the purview of the American Rescue Plan Act and eventually be paid for using the county’s ARPA money. The county has about $17.5 million in unspent ARPA funds that it must allocate by the end of 2024.
A potential county hire could help address what projects meet ARPA guidelines and similar questions.
County Administration Kathryn Schauf told the committee that the county is considering hiring three outside administrators to assist with specific areas of ARP funding: programmatic coordination, third-party grants and broadband. She said the programmatic coordinator would figure out what could be covered by ARPA money and determine state funds the county could apply for, such as money to help with local housing.
Schauf said the third-party grant administrator’s responsibilities would include helping organizations apply for grant money and maintaining reports on how much money was awarded.
For the role related to broadband, Schauf said the person should be familiar with broadband technology and “the multitude of” potential funding sources for broadband projects. The County Board in July allocated $2.8 million for broadband development, its only allocation of ARP money so far.
The county Administration Committee and ARP funding task force will likely discuss those potential hires during their meetings today.
The next Finance and Budget Committee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11.