- American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
Washington County's American Rescue Plan Act 2022 report (PDF). This is the report as it was sent to the U.S. Treasury July 31, 2022.
Washington County is reporting how American Rescue Plan Act funds were directed for the fourth quarter of 2022 (PDF).
Washington County is reporting how American Rescue Plan Act funds were directed for the third quarter of 2022 (PDF).
Washington County is reporting how American Rescue Plan Act funds were directed for the second quarter of 2022 (PDF).
Washington County is reporting how American Rescue Plan Act funds were directed for the first quarter of 2022 (PDF).
Washington County's American Rescue Plan Act 2021 report (PDF). This is the report as it was sent to the U.S. Treasury Aug. 31, 2021.
In addition to funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, Washington County also received received $31.7 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in 2020. See how Washington County used those funds to support community safety initiatives, and support county residents and businesses in the county (PDF).
Washington County seeks requests for funds for broadband investment
The Washington County Board of Commissioners has allocated $2 million for investments in broadband within Washington County.
The Broadband Program will provide 1:1 matching funding to cities, townships, and broadband providers for the expansion of high speed broadband. Eligible project areas include any unserved or underserved area within Washington County. An unserved or underserved household or business is one that is not currently serviced by a wireline connection that delivers a reliable broadband services with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.
Completed projects must allow enrollment in a low-income subsidy program. Recipients may use the funds to cover limited costs incurred for eligible projects on or after March 22, 2022. Applications are accepted on a first come first serve basis.
Find more information about the Broadband Program on this one-pager explainer (PDF).
This is the management portal. The portal requires users to create a log in. For more information or questions, send an email to staff.
Washington County, while a county that is fortunate to have natural, financial, and human resources, has residents who were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as did every area in the country. Its leadership and residents are grateful to have additional resources to rebuild the organization and assist residents as the pandemic abates.
A number of projects will address needs and deficiencies and inequities that were exacerbated in the county by the pandemic. The hungry became more evident, the unhoused became more prevalent, the un- and under-employed suffered more acutely from their financial plight. A number of programs will address and, it is hoped, alleviate these deficiencies going forward.
This report includes a list of projects and initiatives that the county will undertake in its recovery.
If you have comments on the proposed plan, they may be submitted through this email form.
Washington County is approaching its recovery efforts in two phases. The first phase over the first two years commits approximately 80% of the county’s allocation to address continued response to ongoing pandemic needs, focusing on recovery for those most impacted by the public health emergency, addressing long-standing gaps in the economy that prevent equitable economic recovery, and shoring up government services to continue to serve the needs of the community.
Almost 38% of the county’s allocation has been dedicated to the public health response. Ensuring availability and access to COVID-19 vaccination and testing best positions the county to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Equipment, service, and building modifications in the recovery plan will assist in the response to COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides the county the opportunity to bolster its Crisis Response Team to address the increasing mental health needs within the county.
The county’s allocation addresses economic gaps experienced by residents, businesses, and non-profits by focusing on food security, internet access, and job training, and targets support to those hardest hit by the pandemic. It addresses housing stability with housing outreach and an Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Community Health Workers will address the health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.
The county is using a portion of the allocation to improve the county’s infrastructure to better position itself for the ongoing public health emergency. Investments in the county’s information technology, capital equipment needs, and staff augmentation – for example, in the attorney’s division to address the case backlog as a result of the pandemic – will allow the county to continue its recovery and preparation for a future COVID-19 response.
The second phase of the county’s response is dependent on evaluation and assessment of phase one efforts.
Equity considerations are central to Washington County’s work. Although the county consistently ranks as one of the healthiest counties in Minnesota, some residents are still affected by poor health. The health outcomes of populations within the county can be starkly different, depending on a number of factors, including race, education, income, and geography. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these disparities that already existed.
The county’s equity work involves community partnerships, collaborations, and outreach.
Approaches to make county services more equitable include:
- removal of barriers that slow response time – such as limiting personal information needed for services such as food support or vaccine appointments;
- working with diverse community representatives to understand communication gaps with historically underserved, marginalized, or adversely affected groups;
- seeking trusted messengers to equalize access to information;
- translating materials and having interpreter services available;
- eliminating transportation barriers by offering rides to residents who need transportation to vaccine clinics, COVID-19 testing facilities, or food distribution events; and
- offering no-contact delivery options for food support.
The Food Security Unit will embed equity through its ARPA funded projects by:
- continuing to remove administrative structures that would slow or limit a speedy or sustained response;
- asking only for size of household and age ranges of its members to ensure food quantity is proportional;
- removing the barrier of transportation by offering no-contact deliveries; and
- explicitly seeking trusted messengers to equalize access to information and to communicate options and opportunities to residents.
Through telephone calls, emails, and face-to-face communication, resident input has led directly to the development of specific programs, including the prepared meal delivery and the Harvest Express, two programs that will continue with ARPA funds. In addition, the county sought feedback from diverse community representatives in Spring 2021 to understand communication gaps with communities of color and underrepresented groups, specifically around vaccine information.
Ongoing community engagement work around COVID-19 response and beyond seeks to work through trusted partner organizations, and residents of affected communities. At the same time, the county continues to build staff capacity and understanding around health equity and how to advance the work.
The county relies heavily on following best practices from a number of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and professional associations for planning and service delivery within the county. Some of the projects are directly tied to the American Rescue Plan Act’s identification of a program or initiative that would reduce the disparate impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency and/or address underlying economic inequities that are exacerbating the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Washington County is investing more than 20% of its allocation, or $11,087,000, in interventions, such as crisis response, food security, internet accessibility, housing support, community health workers, and career pathways to have a direct impact on the goals described for each of these initiatives.
Public Health $31,210,893
Community Health Worker-Health Equity Initiative (Multi-year effort), $2,235,000
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and /or have an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a liaison between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. CHWs also increase health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities. This ARPA project aims to develop community engagement to address community recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through a health equity lens.
Eligible services include services to connect residents with health care resources and public assistance programs to build healthier environments. The project will fund navigators who will assist community members with navigating and applying for available federal, state, and local public benefits or services.
Crisis Response Mental Health Service Augmentation, $250,000
The longer-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 are yet to be determined. There has been an influx of new intakes, as well as the suspension of routine case closures. This swelled caseloads across most mental health programs, and increased demand on the state and federal government for additional resources. This project would employ special project positions for two years to administer assistance programs based on current needs.
County Emergency/Transitional Housing Capital Program, $8,000,000
This project would provide money for the purchase of a 50-75 bed hotel to be converted into a 30-bed shelter. Remodeling will include a commercial kitchen, room modifications, community spaces, office spaces, etc.
This will be the first permanent shelter in Washington County for adults and will allow residents to receive services in the community in which they want to secure housing. The project will serve the hardest-hit communities and families and address health disparities and the social determinants of health, investments in housing, and neighborhoods.
The shelter should open in spring 2023.
County Emergency/Transitional Housing, $800,000
This project would support the housing of those experiencing homelessness until the Washington County ARPA funded 30-bed shelter is operational in spring 2023 and provide one special project position to assist with the hotel shelter program for one year. The Center for Evidence-based Solutions to Homelessness guide the county’s strategy and approach regarding homelessness within the jurisdiction.
This project would include funding for general operation and administrative support and supplies. This may include communication/marketing, education about need for emergency housing, cleaning and incidentals for hotel rooms, consultation fees for people with lived experience, and support services for people accessing services in the shelter when no other funds are available.
Funds are being directed to provide services to communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency to promote and encourage strong, equitable growth. The project will serve the hardest-hit communities and families, and address health disparities and the social determinants of health, investments in housing, and neighborhoods.
County Emergency/Transitional Housing (Youth), $400,000
Washington County will partner with Dakota County for the purchase of a building for a youth shelter. This is a one-time use of capital funds. For those served, 80% of children and youth are in need of short-term emergency stay in a facility within 30 minutes of their family home; 90% of children and youth will receive the right level of support and services, and not have to choose a setting that is more restrictive due to lack of options.
Housing Outreach Team Supervision, $250,000
The Housing Outreach Services Team (HOST) began in 2014 and has grown; the request is for a supervisor to meet the current need of the community and the anticipated program growth.
As the needs of HOST grow, the current model of supervision is not sustainable. The supervisory responsibilities of the HOST team have diversified as the housing support needs have increased extensively with the expansion of the homeless population in Washington County. This has required increased supervision with expanded services, fiscal management of grants and funding sources, and the development and coordination of shelter services. With the onset of COVID, HOST has experienced an elevated need for homeless outreach, emergency shelter, and housing support services while standing up a COVID shelter.
Food Security Program, $202,000
This program will continue the work of the Food Security Team in partnership with local food shelves. The program includes Emergency Food Pack delivery, transportation of food boxes to people in the community, and infrastructure to support food shelf partners to take over administration of this program by the end of 2021. It will also include a number of food preparation and delivery programs.
Library Express Lockers, $350,000
The Library has express lockers in Hugo, Newport, and Marine on St. Croix. In 2020, the use of these lockers was 52% higher than in 2019. Also in 2020, all Washington County Library branches provided curbside pickup, which provided a much needed service during the pandemic. Adding express lockers outside all branches would provide 24/7 access to library materials across the county. In addition, the lockers could replace the curbside pickup service offered at each branch.
Additional express lockers in Washington County would assist the response to COVID-19 and the broader health impacts of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 public health emergency as adaptations to public buildings to implement COVID-19 mitigation tactics. Lockers would also support equity-focused services by allowing flexibility in access to library services for hard-hit communities. Additional access to library materials would also help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments.
Building Modifications to ensure safe service delivery, $6,000,000
The project would reconfigure workstations and office spaces to accommodate changes in workstyles, including telework, due to the pandemic. Replacing existing furniture with more flexible options will maximize the space and reduce the need for future space growth in the county. Reconfiguration front reception desk areas throughout the county will enhance safety between front desk staff and the public, and increase security in the buildings. Upgrades and installation of A/V equipment throughout the county will allow for enhanced virtual interaction between staff working between sites, between home and office, and between staff and clients.
Reconfigurations would allow for proper teleworking to accommodate social distancing guidelines in a pandemic, while maximizing the availability of staff within buildings to serve the needs of the public.
Payroll and Benefit Costs of those Directly Responding to the Pandemic, $2,196,793
While the costs have dropped significantly in 2021, the county continues to incur salary and benefit costs for those directly responding to the pandemic, including costs to administer this federal funding and consulting costs.
Public Health Enhancements to County Environmental Centers, $439,800
The county uses its Environmental Center to support the public health preparedness efforts. This project will provide dedicated space in Woodbury, and at the new center in Forest Lake, for supplies and equipment necessary to respond to public health emergencies.
Virtual Meeting and Service Support, $201,800
The County Board Room requires a high-quality production system to meet the needs of commissioners, the public, and county staff who attend meetings and workshops. There is an internal staff commitment to maintain all the A/V equipment in the Board Room weekly to meet the production quality expectations. In addition to the Board Room, there are 197 conference rooms that serve the public and departments that routinely need support for maintenance and programming.
This position will also develop conference room standards, develop a training program for staff, and coordinate contracted work that cannot be completed internally. This will support remote work and client services. This position will be expected to provide high-quality customer service to all county departments to minimize any A/V disruptions to meetings in conference rooms and the Board Room.
Safe Working Environment at Big Marine Park, $418,000
The staff facility building at Big Marine Park Reserve does not have running water, staff restrooms, or a handwashing station. This project would add these basic amenities for staff as well as include an eye wash station, employee work areas, locker area, and a basic lunchroom space.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, handwashing is one of the core components to slow the spread of COVID-19. By providing a restroom and handwashing station for staff, staff have better opportunities to wash before eating, after using a restroom, and after being in a public place. One chemical toilet, and associated costs, will be discontinued.
Public Health Records Assessment and Support, $400,000
This project improves the design and execution of certain public health records systems within the county.
Protective Equipment and Measures, $250,000
This project will provide the necessary safety measures for virus transmission mitigation, including, but not limited to, materials and supplies, temporary modifications, enhanced cleaning, and other needs.
Campus Heating and Cooling Improvements, $8,000,000
This project will replace the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems throughout the Washington County Stillwater campus, including boilers and chillers, along with associated piping, pumps, and motors as necessary. In addition, select air-handling units may have to be replaced to accommodate the new equipment. The new equipment will provide a higher energy efficiency than the current equipment. Enhancements would include increased air flow and outside air intake, replacement of equipment that is unable to accommodate the recommended guidelines during a pandemic due to age and vintage, and provide additional functionality, which would allow for quick reaction to public health-related concerns in a timely manner.
COVID-19 Testing Planning and Implementation, $60,000
This project continues the county's testing program and costs would include all supplies, staff time, and materials.
Jail Camera and Security Systems $350,000
The jail is in need of an upgrade to its jail security system, which includes more cameras in the jail for increased coverage. The jail security system needs a software upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Also, 24 more cameras are needed to monitor vulnerable inmates, including those who are suicidal and self-harming.
Court Room Security Glass $200,000
This project will extend security glass to the ceiling and/or fully enclose the inmate holding area of Courtroom 200, which is used for in-custody arraignment.
Access and Continuity Navigator $207,500
This is a pilot program for Community Services that includes embedding two Community Services staff at Washington County libraries. The model is designed to simplify the process for residents to access support and services by offering assistance in accessible locations, such as libraries, and through transferring the complexities of the system to community services staff whenever possible.
County Infrastructure Improvements & Operations $7,766,200
Voice-Telephone System Replacement, $2,017,200
To facilitate telework and virtually deliver county services efficiently and effectively, this project would replace the current county telephone system that is at the end of its useful life.
St. Croix Bluffs Boat Launch Improvements, $700,000
This funding will accelerate the replacement of the boat launch at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. This will provide accessibility to the river and fishing piers. The boat launch is used for access to the river while responding to emergencies on the St. Croix River.
Sheriff's Office Mobile Squad Radio Replacement, $500,000
This request funds a replacement of all Washington County public safety radios installed in squad cars. The current radios were purchased in 2007-2008 and are no longer supported for parts. New radios offer several enhancements, such as encryption, improved controls, and wireless programming, which will decrease staff time to support the radios. The WiFi programming will allow for social distancing as all updates are done remotely.
Public Works Fleet Replacement, $1,000,000
The current Fleet Capital Replacement Budget for 2022 is $641,300. The Fleet Replacement schedule budget should be $1.52 million per year, based on needs, due to the end of the useful life of Public Works equipment. In addition, the existing fleet and equipment replacement backlog is estimated at $5.4 million.
A portion of the State Aid budget has always been dedicated to funding the Fleet Replacement Program. Starting in 2021, there is a reduction in State Aid funding due to reduced gas tax being collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. An analysis on just Highway State Aid was completed following the U.S. Treasury Guidance, and it was determined that there is more than $9.5 million in lost State Aid revenues just in transportation.
Information Technology Infrastructure, $3,130,200
This project will provide funding for increased information technology infrastructure and security measures as outlined in the county's capital equipment and technology plan. These improvements will support remote work for county employees and remote access for those doing business with the county, as well as improve client communication, all in response to the pandemic.
Election Equipment Replacement, $350,000
This project would replace the assistive voting devices and poll pads used in each precinct on Election Day and at all absentee voting locations. Currently, Washington County uses machines from 2004 and they are no longer manufactured. New parts are not available with only refurbished parts/machines available when repair or replacement is needed. Funding would also be used to modernize the election system and improve cyber security.
Law Library Lost Revenue, $68,800
The Law Library is funded through fines and forfeitures collected by the court system. During the pandemic, the Law Library saw a shortfall in collected revenue resulting in negative balances for budget years 2020 and 2021. The collection of fines and forfeitures is projected to be lower than pre-COVID years in 2022. The Law Library is seeking revenue replacement for the lost revenue to maintain its collection of print and electronic materials.
Investments in Water, Sewer, and Broadband Infrastructure $2,750,000
Broadband matching funds, $2,000,000
This project is in the planning phase and may include matching grants to local units of government for the expansion of high-speed broadband within Washington County.
Sewer and Water Utility Matching Funds, $750,000
This project will provide matching funds to the City of Stillwater, as a subrecipient, for sewer and water infrastructure. These funds would supplement a $2 million investment that the city is making in sewer and water utility line to support economic development within a hard-to-reach area. This utility line is also anticipated to support a healthcare campus under development.
Supporting Impacted Communities $9,248.800
Career Pathways System Project, $400,000
Career Pathways for high school students is an approach to accelerate the talent pipeline process that enables schools and employers to establish partnerships that integrate the skill needed by employers into school curriculum and experiential learning. It provides the opportunity for students to gain more realistic understandings of their career interests and helps employers promote their businesses and career opportunities through engagement with students. This is a priority of the Workforce Development Board.
The program would develop the structure for the county-wide business and high school consistency of engagement, transition to an "in-kind" effort, aligning existing resources to manage and maintain what has been created.
Similar Career Pathway opportunities are also needed for low-income adults. Adding adults to this project would enable a larger outreach and impact by providing support to those needing training or assistance who aren’t eligible for regular program funding.
Businesses are struggling now, more than ever, to find qualified candidates, due to both COVID-19 and the baby-boomer generation retiring at a rate that can be higher than new entrants entering the workforce. This project will help provide a more stable talent pipeline for industries in demand in Washington County, many of which are listed as those most impacted by COVID-19.
As school districts move toward adopting Career Pathway approaches, there is a growing need to provide assistance in how they connect with businesses and to avoid different engagement approaches that will discourage businesses from participating. This project responds to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency to both individuals and businesses. Those with barriers to accessing training and employment have seen an increase in this impact due to COVID-19. Individuals from disparately impacted families prior to and during COVID-19 need a better system to guide them through the process of identifying Career Pathways that meet their interests, abilities, and affordability. This project will lay the foundation for high school students and adults across Washington County to create better opportunities for themselves.
Internet Access to Support Adults and Students, $200,000
This is a multi-year funding request for the Library's hotspot program. In 2020, the Library purchased 500 hotspots with a one-year service contract with CARES Act funding. These hotspots were available for check-out starting in November 2020. In the past six months, these hotspots have been checked out 2,754 times. Although the hotspots have been popular, at no point in the last six months have all 500 hotspots been checked out. The average number of hotspots checked out from March through May 2021 is 391. As a result, the number of hotspots will be reduced from 500 to 400. This will support remote education and reduce disparities in access to basic technology needs.
County Attorney Staff Augmentation, $198,800
This Attorney I special project position will be employed for two years to address the backlog of lower-level crimes prosecution in the county, which occurred due to court closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic Support Division Assistance, $350,000
The county is providing more than $14 million in rental assistance over the next two years and has seen an increase in all program areas caused by the pandemic. Additional staffing is necessary to ensure all applications are processed in a timely fashion and eligibility requirements are met.
Equitable Services Consultant, $400,000
This project will pay for a consultant to shift the county’s focus and resources to more equitably provide services to Washington County residents to address disparate outcomes for populations most vulnerable to the public health crisis. Areas to be addressed include access and resource development. This will be measured by an increase in the numbers of unduplicated residents from the target group who access services and the correlation to the overall population of Washington County.
The consultant will assess the current situation, work with stakeholders to define a future state, and create an implementation plan.
Small Business Technical Assistance Program, $200,000
This project will allocate up to $200,000 in ARPA funds to the Washington County Community Development Agency to fund the small business technical assistance program.
Affordable Housing, $7,500,000
ARPA funds will fill a gap in financing the construction of 60 new affordable apartments. The Washington County Community Development Agency (CDA) has the unique opportunity to construct 58 units with federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance.