Penobscot County has $8.2M in pandemic funds left to distribute

By Marie Weidmayer, Bangor Daily News Staff

Penobscot County Commissioners have until the end of the year to allocate about $8.2 million of remaining COVID-19 relief funds.

The county received $29.5 million after Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 and must finish allocating the money by Dec. 31, 2024. Commissioners are continuing to review applications and award funding to organizations across the county.

There won’t be any issues with getting through the remaining funds, said Wendy Dana, Penobscot County’s grant manager. The money must be spent by Dec. 31, 2027.

And a tentative agreement with Bangor could remove a chunk of that money, as commissioners allocated nearly $1.2 million at a meeting on Jan. 2 if the Bangor City Council agrees to match the distribution to four organizations. 

If the city agrees, Penobscot County will have about $7 million left to allocate, while Bangor has about $3.8 million left from its $20.8 million. County commissioners have distributed the funds quickly but in smaller increments, giving out $10,000 to $50,000 to numerous organizations, while the city has been criticized for slowly distributing its funds, after sitting on the money for about two years.

A letter outlining the organizations Penobscot County wants to support was being sent to the Bangor city manager and will be presented to the council, Dana said.

The commissioners agreed to give $550,000 to the Shaw House Community Care, which helps homeless youth; $350,000 to the Heart of Maine United Way; $220,000 to Wellspring, which provides treatment for substance use disorder; and $50,000 to the Bangor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Economic development, as well food insecurity and substance use disorder, are all things the commissioners are interested in funding, Dana said. Money has also gone to Fresh Start, Penquis, the Millinocket Regional Hospital, and Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness.

“It’s really a case by case basis that we will consider just a variety of different projects that are happening in the county,” Dana said.

There are numerous applications the county is looking through and it is checking in with the organizations to make sure they haven’t already finished the projects, Dana said. 

Applications for the subrecipient of ARPA funds from the county are still open. Businesses and organizations interested in applying can find more information on the county’s website.

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