American Rescue Plan Funds, Jail Bonds, Budgets, and Taxes Are the Center of Conversation with Polk County Commissioner

American Rescue Plan Funds, Jail Bonds, Budgets, and Taxes Are the Center of Conversation with Polk County Commissioner

August 9, 2021 News -- KRJB-KRJM-KKCQ 0

By: Mary Balstad marybalstad@rjbroadcasting.com

Polk County, MN – The topic of conversation on August 9th’s ‘Food for Thought’ was something on everybody’s mind; money. Rather, how it is implemented throughout Polk County. Commissioner of Polk County Joan Lee spoke about the effect the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has on various parts of the county in regards to budgets, taxes and even the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. With little guidance from the state on how to spend the ARP funds, Lee says the county is expected to receive a little over $6 million dollars with five years to spend said funds. Although the spending guidance is limited, Polk County has received word on possible spending options. These spending options also include recouping lost revenue such as gas tax earnings and using the funding toward restarting delayed projects.

Refinancing jail bonds was next on the agenda. Lee says this is the third time the county has looked at refinancing jail bonds. Reportedly, they should be paid off by 2026. Lee covered the approximate payments and savings of these finances.

The proposed budgets for 2022 are being submitted. As the department heads are getting back into the process of readying the budgets, changes to the plans can be expected until the September deadline.

Finally, Lee spoke about the wheelage and the sales taxes that have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that the board of commissioners were talking about raising the taxes, but put off doing so.

Lee says that the ability to raise money at a local level is not the best option for the county commissioners as it hits closer to home. However, she does emphasize that it takes time to be able to build up the money for road constuction and upkeep from these taxes.