Bakersfield · COVID-19

Kern Co. lay initial groundwork for spending $175mil in Federal stimulus

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the initial allocation of its American Rescue Plan Act funds on Tuesday. 

Kern County’s quota from the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package totaled nearly $175 million. Half of that total has already been sent to the county, while the county will receive the other half in May of next year. 

Under the act, all funds must be appropriated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. 

Tuesday’s approval from the Board of Supervisors on how the county will spend its share is the first look for the count, not the final. The board will be able to change the plan at a later date and will have to approve major agreements as they arise. 

The U.S. Treasury department has initially outlined four paths for spending the stimulus funds under the law:

  • Response to the pandemic or negative economic impacts from the pandemic
  • Workers performing essential work during the pandemic
  • Lost revenue to support government services
  • Water, sewer and broadband infrastructure

For its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn, Kern County is allotting $28.2 million, 16.13 percent, of its funds. 

That will further be split in the following ways: 

  • $15 million – Support for homelessness, behavioral health, substance abuse and mental health
  • $10 million – Mitigation of economic impacts on the county public hospital authority
  • $2.45 million – Restaff county libraries
  • $600,000 – Tourism economic recovery
  • $150,000 – Restaurant job training facility improvements

Kern County is providing $25.84 million, 14.78 percent of its funds, as premium pay to essential workers who worked during the pandemic. 

In an effort to cover lost revenue over the last year, the county is allocating $80.09 million, or 45.8 percent of its funds, to its own departments to sustain programs and salaries. 

The board is also allocating $40.72 million, or 23.29 percent of its funds, to water, sewer and broadband infrastructure in the following ways: 

  • Water projects
    • $10 million – Lamont stormwater/flood mitigation
    • $4 million – Well replacement and rehabilitation Buena Vista Recreation Area
    • $1.1 million – Potable and fire water system at Camp Condor
    • $620,000 – Potable Water system at Camp Okihi
  • Sewer projects
    • $7 million – Sewer line replacement for Taft Heights and Ford City
    • $6 million – Sewer trunk lines and lift stations for northwest Bakersfield
    • $2 million – Sewer line replacement for East Bakersfield
  • Broadband projects
    • $10 million – Public Wi-Fi at all 43 county parks

“This is a game changer for Kern County,” said District 5 Supervisor Leticia Perez. “That our parks would have the ability to access job opportunities and communicate with the world is really an exciting transition and an exciting moment for Kern County.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.