Kandiyohi County no longer in a local state of emergency
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday rescinded the local state of emergency that had been enacted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board continues to work on how to spend the $8 million in American Rescue Plan funds the county will receive over the next year.
WILLMAR — Nearly 16 months after issuing the resolution and a week after the state of Minnesota lifted its state peacetime emergency order, Kandiyohi County has ended its local emergency resolution, in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution was originally approved on March 20, 2020, and set to run "until further notice."
"This is your further notice. We are done," said Larry Kleindl, Kandiyohi County administrator.
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners happily and unanimously at Tuesday's meeting approved rescinding its resolution that had declared the state of emergency.
"It has been a process," Kleindl said. "It is something I hope our next several generations don't ever have to go through again."
However, the end of the state of emergency does not mean the County Board is done with the pandemic.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us," said Commissioner Roger Imdieke. "It will make our work easier, not having the restrictions in place."
The board is still working out how to spend more than $8 million the county will receive through the American Rescue Plan , the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill. The consensus on the board is to spend the majority of the funds, even up to 75%, on broadband infrastructure projects across the county. At the June 15 meeting, the commissioners approved spending $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds on the Federated broadband project in Dovre, Mamre, St. Johns and Arctander townships.
There are several other county broadband projects that could receive American Rescue Plan funding from the county. There has also been discussion at the state and national level about putting more money toward expanding high-speed broadband to underserved areas.
"People really got the message, with COVID, that people need that," said Commissioner Rollie Nissen.
That drive to expand broadband also carries some concerns, as more projects planned could mean more of a strain on available equipment, contractors and money.
"That is why we want to get a jump on our broadband, so we get in front of the line as quick as possible," Kleindl said.
What the county will do with the remaining American Rescue Plan funds is still an open question. Kleindl is hoping to hire someone temporarily to help with the administrative work surrounding the program, which looks to be in-depth.
"The reporting is going to be a lot more detailed than I realized it was going to be," Kleindl said. "It is going to be a lot more documentation on justification, on how it is related to COVID-19. That is going to make it a challenge."
There is still a lot of information coming out about the American Rescue Plan and how the money can be spent. Kleindl urged the commissioners to keep an eye on the website of the National Association of Counties .
"They are constantly updating information," Kleindl said.
The commissioners want to be both careful and expedient in regards to how and when the federal relief dollars are spent. They don't want to miss out on opportunities by waiting too long to make a decision, but also don't want to make a rushed decision that ends up not working out.
"Be as aggressive as we possibly can, and be as responsible as we can," Imdieke said.
Kleindl said he plans on updating the commissioners on the American Rescue Plan at every board meeting. Interest is high about how the county plans to use its allocation.
"Every day I get a request for funds from somebody," Kleindl said. "There are a lot of requests for these dollars."