Pittsylvania County received approximately $11.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the most recent federal stimulus bill that was finalized in March of 2021. While the more than $10 million that Pittsylvania County received from the federal CARES Act in March of 2020 had many approved uses, ARPA funding is much more difficult to spend. There are only a few major categories of approved funding:
- Public Health
- Negative Economic Impact
- Services to Disproportionately Impacted Communities
- Premium Pay
- Revenue Replacement
"We have been very deliberate and very slow as to how we start thinking about the best impact of this money for our community.” -- Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman.
The Board of Supervisors is still considering a wide range of options for how to best use these funds in a way that helps Pittsylvania County residents, businesses, and government. Some of the potential allocations that are being considered include significant investments in broadband expansions, water and sewer services, and potentially improving public safety infrastructure. The Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize additional uses of this money in the coming months. Below are the uses that have been approved so far:
Fire and Rescue Funding ($1 million)
During its August meeting, the Board approved using approximately $1 million in ARPA funds for fire and rescue agencies at the recommendation of Dan River Supervisor Joe Davis. Pittsylvania County has more than 20 volunteer fire departments and 12 rescue squads (many of which are joint agencies that provide fire and rescue services). Pittsylvania County can’t fully fund these agencies, but our Board is determined to provide as much support as possible.
With our CARES Act funds, the Board purchased ambulances for several volunteer agencies and bought a significant amount of personal protection equipment. Since ARPA funds have tighter guidelines, the Board of Supervisors set up the following arrangement for use of this $1 million:
- Departments will apply for a specific amount of money for a specific person to the Fire and Rescue Commission
- The Fire and Rescue Commission will consider the request and make a recommendation to the Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors
- The Finance Committee will make a recommendation to the full Board of Supervisors
- The full Board of Supervisors will have final approval.
The Board of Supervisors is working diligently to make sure that this $1 million, as well as the rest of the ARPA funds, are used in a way that makes the most impact and in a way that actually is allowed by the guidelines.
Premium Pay (Estimated $605,000)
According to the guidelines set forth by the federal government, one of the uses for ARPA funds is premium pay, one-time bonuses for employees. The Commonwealth of Virginia elected to provide $3,000, one-time bonuses to all law enforcement, sheriff's deputies, and correctional officers. Since Pittsylvania County has approximately 27 deputies that are funded locally, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors decided to step in and give bonuses to those positions.
At that same August meeting, Dan River Supervisor Joe Davis recommended providing bonuses to all county employees for their work during the pandemic. This includes approximately $3,000 bonuses for all public safety-related and front line employees, particularly those with Animal Control, Solid Waste, Public Safety, and the Deaprtment of Social Services. Premium pay, one-time bonuses of $1,500 will go to the remainder of county employees. Only those employees in grades 1-24 on the county's pay scale are eligible for the bonuses, and part-time employees will receive a pro-rated bonus based on their weekly hours worked.
- Approximately 211 employees will receive a $3,000 bonus
- Approximately 92 employees will receive a $1,500 bonus
- Approximately 70 part-time employees will receive a pro-rated bonus.