Travis County lays out timeline for American Rescue Plan Act fund distribution, allocates remaining CARES Act dollars

Photo of a sign that says "Travis County"
Travis County expects to receive around $247.1 million through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Travis County expects to receive around $247.1 million through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Travis County is preparing to begin distributing the first half of $247.1 million in federal funds aimed at COVID-19 recovery efforts by June. Some $123.5 million of this allocation, distributed through the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund arm of the American Rescue Plan Act, will arrive May 10, with the remaining funds arriving in May 2022.

While local officials await federal guidance to determine the specifics of how ARPA funding may be used, Diana Ramirez, Travis County’s director of economic development and strategic investments, presented county commissioners with a sketch of programming priorities for the funds April 6. Ramirez outlined both the possible creation of new programs and the continuation of some others started in 2020 with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding, including TCTX Thrive, which offers support to small businesses, and TCTX Serve, which supports nonprofits.

New programming under consideration includes efforts to revamp county infrastructure—including water and broadband internet access. Resources to mitigate homelessness in the local area through supportive housing and mental health and substance abuse resources are also on the table—a priority the city of Austin has identified for its $195.8 million in ARPA funds.

According to a timeline proposed by Ramirez, county staff will present finalized ARPA funding priorities to commissioners by May 18, with distribution through local programs beginning by the end of June. Programs established with the funding may extend through 2024.

Beyond the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, there are other funding opportunities through which ARPA Travis County may be able to explore, Ramirez said. For instance, ARPA also includes around $15 billion in nationwide Childcare and Development Block Grant funding earmarked for child care assistance for essential workers.

“We need to check and see if the county will be eligible for any of those additional funds, or if it will have to rely on child care funding through [Local Fiscal Recovery] funds,” she said.

Commissioner Ann Howard encouraged county staff to explore any potential avenue for additional funding.

“I want to make sure that we're looking at all of those sources to help fund even these initial priorities that you've identified so that we stretch the dollars as far as possible,” Howard said.

County commissioners also voted April 6 to reallocate $4,852,191 in remaining CARES Act funds to Travis County’s direct response program. Travis County originally received around $61 million in CARES Act support last year, which must be spent by December 2021. With these reallocations complete, county budget director Travis Gatlin said staff are shifting focus to ARPA programming as well as $10.6 million in federal aid the county recently received that is dedicated to direct rental and utility assistance.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


Romeo's Pizza held its Georgetown groundbreaking April 6. (Courtesy Romeo's Pizza)
Romeo's Pizza coming to Georgetown; Vacancy Brewing opens in South Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a Moderna vaccine vial
Austin Public Health coronavirus vaccine portal opens to all adults April 12

APH will continue outreach efforts to high-priority groups.

Austin Public Health holds a vaccination clinic at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus updates from Austin, Travis County; governor bans 'vaccine passports' and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph has started a scholarship fund that will provide $6,000 to two Austin Community College Culinary Arts students and give them opportunity to be mentored by Bristol-Joseph and to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Austin chef starts scholarship and mentorship program for Austin Community College students

Tavel Bristol-Joseph started the scholarship fund, which will provide $6,000 to two ACC students and give them the opportunity to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants.

Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
After winter storm, Austin puts together a plan for better temporary shelters

The locations, which could be schools, libraries or recreation centers, would be disconnected from traditional infrastructure and be able to sustain operations if the city were to experience widespread power or water outages.

Austin ISD is holding community conversation sessions April 12-May 6. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD community conversation sessions continuing through May 6

The series offers AISD families an opportunity to learn about the district’s strategic plan and ongoing budget planning.

Photo of a spread of fancy food
Lutie's Garden Restaurant now open at Commodore Perry Estate

The restuarant features "Texas heritage fare" by an award-winning husband-and-wife pair of chefs.

A resident at EdenHill Communities receives their second dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Amid the struggle to get vaccinated, these Austin moms have helped over 3,900 people get appointments

The women volunteer their time searching for hard-to-find time slots that often become available in the middle of the night.

Photo of Austin Central Library
Austin Public Library to begin resuming in-person services May 10

Austin Public Library will begin reopening branches to the public in May after operating with only digital and curbside pickup services since June 2020.

The upper decks of I-35 that run between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Airport Boulevard were constructed in the 1970s and could come down as part of a project the Texas Department of Transportation is planning for the highway through Central Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
As time runs short to weigh in on a $4.9B I-35 project, Austin community members say they hope TxDOT is listening

The official comment period for community members to share their thoughts on the highway closes April 9.