Late last year the Park County Commissioners got that rich uncle’s will moment. All of a sudden, they learned they would be receiving $12 million in two installments as part of another round of …
Late last year the Park County Commissioners got that rich uncle’s will moment. All of a sudden, they learned they would be receiving $12 million in two installments as part of another round of ARPA funds being released by the state.
The kicker? These funds are almost completely unrestricted and can be used just about anywhere. Now that may be part of the problem. Since the windfall was announced, county departments and other county-supported groups have come out of the woodwork to ask for funds, some for large amounts, some small, all deemed vitally important by the agencies asking.
The latest ask, at last Tuesday’s meeting, was a relatively small one. The Cody Conservation District is asking for less than $100,000 to help fund a full-time position and allow for the funding to be more stable, and to fund a mail ballot special election to ask the voters to approve sending 1 mill each year to the district.
Commission chair Dossie Overfield said the district does do good work and it’s not a lot of money compared to such requests as a new HVAC system for county buildings and a couple million dollars to expand the Cody sewer lagoons and allow the county to exit the business. However, she also noted that it doesn’t mean the request is a given when $7 million has already been requested of the $6.5 million.
The county is doing the right thing to sort out who gets what. Overfield said the finance department’s Steve Pomajzl is putting together a list of the requests and what they would go toward. She said that’ll be available in time for the first March meeting, at which point commissioners will at least be able to see what all of this money requested would be going to.
Here’s hoping the commissioners think hard about each request before turning this first part of the windfall into a vanishing game. While all of the money being requested would surely be a great benefit to those requesting it, previous years of budget shortages have left a lot of needs across the county. Some will be more important to fill than others with this first round of funds.