Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

County commits most of its ARP money; towns are slower to spend

Among the projects Henderson County plan to fund with ARP money are a wastewater treatment plant on Clear Creek and renovation of the VFW Lodge 5206. Mills River has committed $70,000 to support the Mills River Farmers Market.

In a quarterly meeting attended by the county’s mayors last month, Henderson County Board of Commissioners Bill Lapsley had the floor first when it came time to describe how local governments were spending American Rescue Plan money.

Designed to help states, cities and counties recover from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the grants were eye-brow raising big — and cities and counties had to do nothing to get them. They were just allocated by a federal formula based on population. “Would you say that number again?” Lapsley said when the county’s budget analyst reported the appropriation in March of 2021 — $22.8 million. In all, the county and its five municipalities received $34 million.

Sixteen months later, elected officials have processed the fact that the windfall from Congress had fattened their treasuries, and although there were a few mocking cracks about Biden bucks and Pelosi dollars, no one has moved to send the cash back.

Lapsley’s description at the Local Government Committee for Cooperative Action meeting of how Henderson County was using ARP money lasted much longer than reports from the mayors. While Laurel Park has decided how it will spend all of its grant and Hendersonville has committed around half of its total, Mills River and Flat Rock have spent only a fraction of their ARP money and Fletcher has appropriated none, the Lightning’s survey showed. Here’s the ARP spending status as it stands now:

  • Henderson County received $22.8 million and has committed $18.9 million, leaving $3.93 million. The nonprofit community has asked the county to appropriate $2 million for ARP-eligible services that local agencies would provide.
  • Hendersonville, which received $4.5 million, has appropriated $1.25 million in this year’s budget and earmarked the same amount in next year’s budget to support firefighters’ pay. The city also has called for and received applications from nonprofits for ARP grants.
  • Laurel Park has committed all of its $742,565 to stormwater drainage improvements, part of the Town Board’s $2 million commitment to repair and repave the town’s roads.
  • Mills River, which received $2.36 million, has appropriated just $145,000 — $75,000 in premium pay for Mills River Fire & Rescue personnel and $70,000 over two years to support the Mills River Farmers Market.
  • Fletcher has not yet appropriated any of its $2.6 million ARP grant. The town council has discussed a major greenway extension, a new library or extending sewer service to unserved areas.
  • The Village of Flat Rock spent $37,683 on premium pay for employees and has set aside $15,000 to pay a consultant from the Land of Sky Regional Council who has helped the village stay within the regulatory guardrails. The village received $1,078,153 in ARP money.

Henderson County has made the most progress appropriating rescue plan money. The Board of Commissioners has given $250,000 each to Pardee UNC Health and AdventHealth to support infusion therapy for Covid-19 patients and earmarked $1 million for broadband expansion, $9.3 million for a new Clear Creek sewer plant and sewer lines, $500,000 for medical self-insurance payments, $4.2 million to renovate the Hedrick-Rhodes VFW Lodge 5206, $3.1 million for a new EMS station in Fletcher, $150,000 to upgrade an emergency radio tower in Mills River and $117,170 for Stryker power load systems for ambulances.