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May 14 2021

Still Awaiting Guidance for American Rescue Plan Funds

By: James F. Scales

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARP”) allocated significant funding to local units of government. But despite allocating $19.5 billion for distribution to “non-entitlement units of government” (those with a population below 50,000), the ARP devotes one paragraph to explaining how the funds can be used: (i) premium pay for eligible workers performing essential work; (ii) offsetting a reduction in revenue due to the “public health emergency”; (iii) making “necessary investments in water, sewer or wideband infrastructure”; and (iv) responding to the emergency “or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small business and non-profits,” or “aid to impacted industries like tourism, travel and hospitality.”

Many units of government, especially smaller units that do not levy local income tax, are left puzzling if and how they can use the ARP funds. At this point, official guidance issued under the CARES Act may give some indication how funds may be distributed. These are reprinted at Federal Register, Vol. 86, No. 10 (January 15, 2021) p. 4182. Detailed Treasury Regulations on the ARP are expected to be issued in mid-May, 2021. In the meantime, non-entitlement units of government, which will receive funds through the State, are being encouraged to obtain a DUNS number issued by Dun & Bradstreet used to identify the organization receiving funding. That can be obtained by visiting https:/fedgov.dnb.com/webform/. Annual registration through the System for Award Management (“SAM”) should also be performed at SAM.gov.