The Polk County Board of Supervisors is injecting millions of dollars in federal money into projects ranging from waterways to health care.
The board on Tuesday approved a spending plan for $36.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the county received from Congress last year. Among the priorities: $6 million for residents looking to repair their homes, $5 million in down payment assistance for homebuyers and $3 million for emergency psychiatric care.
“I am proud of the tremendous amount of work that went into this effort to identify initiatives that will have a lasting impact on our community,” board chair Angela Connelly said in a statement.
As part of the coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed in March 2021, lawmakers allocated funding to local governments based on the size of the populations they serve. Polk County received $95 million. Combined with previous expenses – which included $15.2 million to build affordable housing — Tuesday’s allocations will make up the bulk of the remaining funds, district spokesman Jon Cahill said in a news release.
In addition to setting aside money for housing repairs and purchases, the supervisors agreed to spend about $11.6 million on projects to improve water quality and encourage outdoor activity.
The board allocated $2 million to the Iowa Confluence Water Trails project, a major downtown development that would modify two low-head dams to create surfing and kayaking on the Des Moines River. total project, with an estimated budget of around 125 million dollarsit will also include a boat launch and a still water area where paddlers can take a break from the rapids.
The board agreed to spend $2 million to help purchase 1,000 acres north of Grimes for the Brenton Slough/Beaver Creek Greenway. The board also agreed to spend $2 million on the Walnut Creek Regional Basin project, which will create a lake or pond in Grimes or Urbandale to hold excess water from Walnut Creek, helping to prevent damaging flooding. property downstream in Windsor Heights and Clive.
The county allocated about $10 million to health care programs, with the bulk of the money going to mental health. In addition to funding for emergency psychiatric care, the board voted to give $2 million to Eyerly Ball, a nonprofit UnityPoint organization that provides mental health services.
The board allocated a portion of the money to general priorities without identifying a specific recipient. It earmarked about $1.8 million for mental health workforce needs and another $1 million for the nursing workforce.
Cahill told the Des Moines Register that some of the county’s money will go into funding pools, with additional funding from nonprofits and other local governments. He said local leaders will change how they share those costs.
“There’s still some dotting of i’s, crossing of t’s,” he said.
The board allocated about $3.6 million to help disadvantaged communities, with about $2.6 million of that going to the United Way of Central Iowa. Another $500,000 will go to the 6th Avenue Corridor Development in north Des Moines.