All Lubbock County ARPA covid relief funding allocated

Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock County has allocated all of its COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government. $60 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) were appropriated for the county in 2021. County Judge Curtis Parrish says those funds are now paying for several brick-and-mortar projects that will serve people in the area for years to come.

When the ARPA program began, Parrish says he was skeptical. He says he talked with Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington, who told him even though he was against it, now that the money had been appropriated, every penny needed to stay here in Lubbock County.

Parrish says he and his commissioners have fulfilled that wish.

“We’ve been very diverse as to how we’re using this money. We’re using it for public health, we’re using it for water, we’re using it to help out small businesses that that needed help because of the shutdown,” Parrish said.

Under the guidelines from the Treasury Department, Lubbock County identified different expense categories for ARPA funding.

The first was public health:

Nearly $2 million went to new equipment at volunteer fire departments.

$3.5 million is going to a new joint city-county health department.

Another $3.5 million is going to a mental health diversion center, the Hope Center.

Nearly half a million is going to a dialysis suite at the jail.

$10 million is going to a new medical examiner’s office. Parrish hopes county voters will foot the rest of that bill through a bond election in November.

“State-of-the-art. One that we will be able to attract forensic pathologists, first-class forensic pathologists, to bring not only all of our autopsy services back to Lubbock, but to be able to now be a regional center where counties all over West Texas will be able to use the services of the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office,” Parrish said.

$10 million in ARPA money also went to help small businesses, non-profits and the arts, all hit hard by the pandemic.

$1 million was given to Open Door, which provides services to people experiencing poverty, homelessness and trafficking survivors across West Texas.

The Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) got $5 million, which Parrish says was spent to bring Leprino Foods to Lubbock. The $1 billion cheese plant is set to bring hundreds of jobs and billions in revenue to the area.

“Remember there’s going to be 250 milk trucks per day going into that Leprino plant,” Parrish said. “So, we want to make sure that the roads are adequate to handle that amount of truck traffic. So, we allocated $5 million to the Leprino plant as far as the infrastructure.”

Funds were allocated for parks in Precinct Two, an irrigation system in Precinct Four.

$1 million was allocated for the Fiber Max Discovery Center.

Most recently, county commissioners approved $7 million for repairs to the McMillan Dam at Buffalo Springs Lake.

Nearly $1 million went to administering ARPA grants, both through a third party and paying the county’s in-house grant administrator for several years.

More than $4 million also went to bonuses for county workers who kept the courthouse running during the pandemic.

Parrish says the treasury department requires periodic updates as to how all ARPA money is being spent.

“It gives us an opportunity to make sure that the money we spent, or the money we allocated, is being used properly. So, there are reportings that will be going on for the next two to three years,” Parrish said.

While all the funds have now been allocated, the county and the organizations it granted funds to have until 2026 to spend them.