GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (FOX) – As 2021 comes to a close, Mesa County municipalities are submitting their budgets for 2022, but next year’s budget looks a lot different.
The American Rescue Plan is set to inject millions of dollars into the Western Slope over the next few years.
It’s an historic windfall, like nothing our area has ever seen. In march of 2021, congress passed the American Rescue Plan.
Included in the act was the state and local recovery fund, the funding will flow directly to cities and can be used for a broad range of projects. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity the way I look at it,” Peter Baier, Mesa County Administrator says.
The American Rescue Plan will flood the Western Slope in funds with a grand total of $42.2 million.
The fund allocates just shy of $30 million to Mesa County’s, $12 million to the City of Grand Junction, $3 million to Fruita and $600,000 to Palisade. “Adding $30 million to the budget really helps, that’s a big help and what it does is accelerate our recovery,” Baier said.
As with any act of congress, it comes with strings attached. “Those dollars do come with certain spending requirements for local governments, they have to be used on certain things,” Baier says.
While recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic remains top priority, funding, thanks to the American Rescue Plan will also expedite many county projects by sharing funds with smaller towns like Mesa, Collbran, and De Beque. “They have some real needs for sewer water and fiber,” Baier says.
Plan funds will massively accelerate recovery and new project development across the Western Slope, even in Palisade. “We are all trying to get back on our feet as it were from some of the economic set backs that occurred during this COVID-19 pandemic and we think that it came at a very opportune time for us.”
Although we are not past the pandemic yet, the American Rescue Plan means Mesa County’s future is not just bright, but the proposed projects could be historic. “These funds are the largest amount of inflow or windfall that Mesa County has seen, I don’t think we have seen anything even close to or approaching close to 30 million,” Baier says.
Funds from the American Rescue Plan is the largest federal windfall Mesa County has seen in history.
To put this in perspective, the previous largest federal funding, was back in 1933 with President Roosevelt’s New Deal program.
Congress initially appropriated $500 million to be given to state’s for emergency relief, that equates to $8 billion, today.
This year, the American Rescue Plan provides $350 billion with a minimum of $500 million for each state.