ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today released the 2022 American Rescue Plan (ARP) Annual Report which details how the county has utilized $26.2 million out of its $63.3 million ARP funding to date and additional planned uses for the relief funding. Howard County received the first half of its ARP allocation of $31.6 million in June 2021, and the second half was received in June 2022.
County Executive Ball also released a new ARP Dashboard that tracks how relief funding is spent across community priorities. Residents can search by policy categories, such as education, business, and non-profit support. Each category details spending projects where funding has been allocated.
Our American Rescue Plan funding is critical to Howard County’s recovery from the pandemic, and we have thoroughly engaged our residents and businesses to ensure this funding is utilized in the best possible way. This annual report highlights where we’ve already had an impact – in public health, education, housing, and supporting businesses, but also details future spending plans such as childcare, broadband expansion, food and utility assistance, and more.
Howard County has drawn collective praise for its use of ARP funding. President Joe Biden acknowledged Howard County for its use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support educators and bus drivers during a speech in February. In May, Howard County received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its community engagement and transparency efforts related to management of ARP funding. Howard County was also invited to present by the United States Conference of Mayors and Bloomberg Philanthropies on its use of ARP funding to boost local workforce capacity in June.
During his speech President Biden urged counties to “use the flexibility we built into the law and spend those funds wisely, to build a future around working people, who make up the communities you run. Put these funds to work to keep people on the job, connect people with better jobs, and providing retention bonuses for teachers and bus drivers, like Howard County, Maryland did.”
To date, Howard County has expended $26.2 million of its initial $31.6 million ARP allocation, focusing its spending on education, health care and front-line workers, housing, public safety and business and industry support.
Supporting County schools, students and educators have been a top priority, with nearly $11 million in County ARP funding expended on HCPSS educators, school bus drivers and for the expansion of school-based mental health services to all public schools in Howard County.
Investment in health care workers and programming has been a priority as the County continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly $8 million provided to support Howard County General Hospital, Howard County Health Department and front-line County employees, community-based mental health services and the expansion of COVID-19 testing resources.
Other expenditures include $2 million for foreclosure prevention grants to homeowners, nearly $1.6 million for the County’s Body Worn Camera program, and over $800,00 in industry support for tourism, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
The County has undertaken a robust community engagement process to inform its spending of federal ARP funding since the beginning of last September, launching a County-based ARP website upon the release of the County’s initial recovery plan, conducting a community survey, hosting an ARP public hearing and presenting its work to the County Council in November.
In February, County Executive Ball released the results of a community survey. Nearly 1200 residents responded to survey and were asked to rank areas of investment between Infrastructure, Negative Economic Impacts, Public Health and Services to Disproportionally Impacted Communities. Notably, 40% of respondents ranked “Services to Disproportionally Impacted Communities” as the “Most Important.” The full survey results are available on the American Rescue Plan webpage.