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Eaton County is getting more than $20M from the American Rescue Plan. They've only spent about $2M.

Federal funding
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 17:03:36-05

CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Eaton County is getting more than $20 million from the American Rescue Plan. Last year the county got about $10.4 million and will receive the rest of the money this year.

So far, they've only spent a little over $2 million

Chairman of the Eaton County Board of Commissioners Jeremy Whittum said the first thing the Board did was allocate $50,000 to do a broadband internet assessment of the county.

“We throughout the course of last year we conducted through the great citizenry of our county on broadband internet survey to find out where our broadband is deficient,” Whittum said.

The county also allocated $1.86 million to offset the county government expenses.

In addition the county is looking into putting money towards a solar array on the courthouse or somewhere on the 31 acre courthouse complex.

“So the first thing that we’re doing with Johnson control is checking out the structural viability of our courthouse to see if the roof or the structured sub can support a solar array to make the court house energy independent,” he said.

A onetime bonus for deputies, youth facility workers, animals control workers, patrol officers and correction officers at the Eaton County jail was given out which Whittum says totals to about $280,000.

The county has also spent $2,000 so if a worker from the sheriff’s office came in contact with someone positive with COVID-19, they would be put in a hotel to isolate from their families.

With about $8 million dollars left in the bank and more money coming this upcoming year Whittum believes it’s important to be cautious with how they spend the rest of the money and said there are things coming up in the county like a jail millage.

“So when that debt is satisfied we’re going to be at the point again where we may have to potentially reinvest more money into at that time our 30 year old jail,” he said.

Brian Lautzenheiser, the vice chairman of the County Board, said they're not in a rush to spend the federal funding because it’s one time money.

“This isn’t going to be part of the annual budget anytime soon," Lautzenheiser. "So there’s no redos on this we want to make sure we get it correct and take our time and make sure that we’re putting this money to the best use possible for Eaton County.”

Lautzenheiser also added that the broadband project is a priority and until they have a potential total price tag for that project it’s hard to speculate on other expenses.

“We want to make sure if there’s a way to connect and increase the quality of the internet service to our rural constituents that we’re able to do that as soon as possible,” Lautzenheiser said.

The money must be used by 2024.

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Cali Montana

Cali Montana

2:27 PM, Jan 20, 2021

Charlotte & Eaton Rapids

Neighborhood Reporter

Cali Montana

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