County may keep most of its ARPA relief money

Staff recommendation to fund projects would leave about $500K for $8M of requests from nonprofits
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee County staff last week recommended that $7.65 million in county projects be funded from available federal money, which, if approved by supervisors would leave about half a million dollars for local nonprofit requests.

The county received more than $17 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds and has already committed more than $8 million to helping local municipalities hire emergency medical personnel at a cost of $5 million, $1 million toward construction of a Sheriff’s Office storage facility and $3.1 million to other projects, leaving about $8.2 million for additional projects.

Local  nonprofit groups were invited to apply for those dollars, and 18 projects totaling more than $8 million were submitted, county Administrator Jason Dzwinel said.

Last week, Dzwinel recommended that remaining county projects take first priority. These included:

• $4.5 million for development of  a community-based residential facility at the Lasata Senior Living campus in Cedarburg that would close the “continuum of care” circle there and, a consultant told supervisors last week, would generate about $2 million in annual revenue.

• $1.4 million to complete a radio system upgrade, including construction of a new tower near Waubeka, that would eliminate “dead zones” in Ozaukee and Washington counties and improve coverage on Lake Michigan.

• $600,000 for construction of a salt brine building in Port Washington that would help reduce use of road salt on highways by about 40%.

• $500,000 for construction of a security entrance, manned by sheriff’s deputies, at the county Administration Center in downtown Port Washington.

• $300,000 to resurface county-owned portions of the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, mostly the stretch from Port Washington to Belgium and that would leverage about $1 million in state transportation funds.

• $150,000 to match state funds to complete construction of a building at Hawthorne Hills county park that will include bathrooms and showers for a future campground there.

• $250,000 for a new fire panel at the county Justice Center in Port Washington. The current 30-year-old panel had an expected lifespan of 15 years,  Dzwinel said.

• $250,000 for tuck pointing at the Justice Center to help fix chronic water leakage problems there.

Dzwinel did not recommend which nonprofit requests to fund but indicated which kinds of requests would be the most suitable.

Among those requests:

• Mel’s Charities in Grafton requested $1.5 million to help with development of a 200-unit apartment complex for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Northern Gateway project in Saukville.

“We need some clarity” on that project, Dzwinel said.

• Interfaith Caregivers is seeking $1.2 million to purchase 12 Tesla electric cars and install charging stations that they say would enable the organization to provide 45,000 trips, up from 12,000 a year.

“We need to do a full cost-benefit analysis,” Dzwinel said, noting that the county Shared Ride Taxi also provides rides to seniors, which gives 60,000 rides per year.

“The two services overlap but don’t exactly align,” he said.

The county also is waiting for a regional transportation study from the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and how the proposal might align with that, he said.

• The Saukville Food Pantry asked for $1.1 million to help purchase its new facility.

Dzwinel said officials perhaps need to consider coordination between the county food pantries as the county also received a request from Family Sharing in Grafton for a refrigerator.

• United Way of Ozaukee County is seeking $665,000 for “operational programming.”

Dzwinel said capital projects are more “ARPA friendly” than requests for ongoing operations, but the United Way’s request might be suitable for funds awarded to the county from a lawsuit against opiate manufacturers and distributors.

The county has already received one $500,000 payment and will receive the same amount each year for the next 20 years. The money can only be used to fight drug abuse and improve mental health. It could be used to meet several of the requests, Dzwinel said, such as Sirona Recovery’s request for $435,000 for operations and staffing.

• The Feith Family YMCA in Saukville is seeking $650,000 for a new swimming pool and $40,000 for mental health programming.

• The Ozaukee Nonprofit Center asked for $400,000 to replace its roof, which includes a solar panel element.

• Portal Inc. in Grafton is seeking $350,000 for a building to house its vans.

• Forward Careers is seeking $240,000 for workforce training.

• Family Promise requested $80,000 to complete its new homeless shelter in Port Washington, which opened Feb. 15.

• Lakeshore Child Advocacy Center in Saukville is seeking $50,000 to expands its services to children who have undergone trauma.

• The Adult Literacy Center in Grafton is seeking $10,000 for English tutor training.

Dzwinel said that request could easily be accommodated through the annual budget process, which includes grants to nonprofits.

The county Executive Committee will review Dzwinel’s recommendations and make a recommendation to the County Board.

ARPA funds must be spent by the end of 2024 or under contract to projects that will be completed by 2026.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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