Howard County Executive Calvin Ball is out with a plan to use millions in federal dollars provided to the Maryland county by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.
At a news conference in Ellicott City on Thursday, Ball launched what the county is calling “a community engagement plan,” that aims to spend $63.2 million in allocated federal funding designed to address immediate and long-term challenges spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This funding provides an immense opportunity for Howard County — and it’s more important than ever that our residents and businesses have the chance to be actively engaged in the process,” Ball said.
The first half of the funding will be available for use this fiscal year, he said.
“Through this extensive community engagement plan … we are confident the use of American Rescue Plan will set Howard County on a path to emerge from the pandemic stronger than before,” said Ball.
He said that in addition to a community survey, other community engagement efforts include a public American Rescue Plan virtual hearing at 6 p.m. on Sept. 29, several stakeholder engagement meetings “being scheduled throughout the month of October,” and a presentation to the Howard County Council at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3.
The county said it has been “actively engaged in assessing evolving federal eligibility guidelines and developing proposals for spending American Rescue Plan funding, with over 200 proposals currently being evaluated at a value of nearly $200 million,” since late June.
The county said some funds have already been allocated to the following initiatives:
- $5 million in hazard pay for county employees who could not work their full-time jobs remotely and had to be on-site during the height of the pandemic.
- $1.6 million to support the implementation of the body-worn camera program.
- $2 million to assist struggling homeowners and prevent foreclosures in Howard County.