Erie County government is committed to serving our citizens, building stronger communities, and enriching the quality of the life for all residents. 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is allowing for an unprecedented financial investment in Erie County. Of the $350 billion allocated to Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which are to be used to help state and local governments cover increased expenditures, replenish lost revenue, and mitigate economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic, Erie County is receiving $52.4 million.

With funds received through the preceding CARES Act, the County distributed $585,313 to emergency service agencies to cover direct costs incurred in responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Unlike the CARES Act funding, which the legislature required be spent quickly to address immediate challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, ARPA funds may be spent over the next five years, allowing for critical, timely needs to be met as well as the opportunity to plan and invest for the future.

Erie County has allocated $1.3M in support of Public Safety programs, of which $740,000 is being used for the Fire/EMS Transformational Grant Program. These funds are being administered by the Erie County Department of Public Safety in partnership with the Erie County Fire and EMS Recruitment and Retention Committee and the Erie Area Council of Governments.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania was facing an emergency services crisis over the dramatic decline in the number of first responders, as highlighted by the 2018 SR 6 Commission Final Report. According to the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute, the number of volunteer firefighters has shrunk from 300,000 in the 1970s to about 60,000 in the early 2000s and to 38,000 in 2018. Yet, Pennsylvania and its communities continue to rely in large measure on volunteers to perform this critical emergency response and public safety service. Of Pennsylvania’s 2,462 fire companies, more than 90 percent are volunteer companies. The staffing issues facing Fire and Emergency Medical Services have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The goal of the Fire/EMS Transformational Grant Program is to incentivize: (1) development of merger/collaboration plans or strategies to improve service area coverage, (2) training and education, (3) recruitment/ pipeline development, (4) retention strategies, and (5) innovative strategies to help address the crisis facing Erie County emergency services.

The Fire/EMS Transformational Grant Program is being implemented in compliance with the ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds guidance published by the US Department of the Treasury, which is found at https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds.


ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

  • Volunteer fire departments/companies located in Erie County, PA
  • Emergency medical services agencies located in Erie County, PA
  • Municipalities located in Erie County, PA (The City of Erie is ineligible for this funding.)


OTHER ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

To be eligible to apply, applicants are required to:

  • Sign on to the 2021-2022 Collaborative EMS Response Plan Agreement for Erie County, if the applicant is a licensed EMS provider;
  • Propose expending all awarded funds by December 31, 2024; and
  • Adhere to contemporary practices/policies with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


PROGRAM GUIDELINES

  • Eligible uses of funding include development of merger/collaboration plans or strategies to improve service area coverage, training and education, recruitment/ pipeline development, retention strategies, including wage subsidies, and innovative strategies to address the crisis facing emergency services.
  • Ineligible uses of funds include vehicle and equipment purchases, purchases of PPE, debt service, and revenue replacement.
  • To encourage collaboration, available award amounts will be tiered, single applicants will be eligible for up to $50,000, applications with two collaborating entities will be eligible for up to $100,000, applications with three or more collaborating entities will be eligible for up to $150,000. Funds will be disbursed on a reimbursement basis. Grant recipients will have up to two years from the award date to draw down funds.
  • Applicants awarded funding must use their Erie County Fire/EMS Transformational Grant to cover eligible expenditures that have not been covered by other sources of funding.


SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION
Applicants must use the online form available at https://eriecountypa.submittable.com.

Applications to the Erie County Fire/EMS Transformational Grant Program are being accepted on a rolling basis until all available funds have been allocated. This grant program is supported, in whole, by the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund grant awarded to Erie County, Pennsylvania by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS
Recipients of Erie County CLFRF funds that expend more than $750,000 in federal awards during their fiscal year will be subject to an audit under the Single Audit Act and its implementing regulation at 2 CFR Part 200, Subpart F regarding audit requirements.

Documenting expenditures is essential to managing compliance risk and minimizing the possibility that costs are deemed ineligible, thereby requiring that the grantee return funds to Erie County.

For a period of five years, recipients of Erie County CLFRF funds areobligated to retain records relating to the use of the monies, including, but not limited to, invoices, contracts, receipts, purchase orders, correspondence, and records demonstrating that funds were spent for purposes permitted by the ARPA and related federal guidance. Such records must be made available to representatives of Erie County upon request and in the requested format.


QUESTIONS?

Questions may be directed to Jessica Horan-Kunco at the Erie Area Council of Governments at jhkunco@erieareacog.org, or Melinda Meyer at the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development at mmeyer@eriecountypa.gov

To support, empower, and advance Erie County municipalities, the County is providing Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFRF) monies to create a Municipal Infrastructure Gap Funding Program. Funds may be used to invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.

Erie County has allocated $2.5 million for the Municipal Infrastructure Gap Funding Program. These funds are being administered by the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development.


ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

  • Municipal governments located in Erie County, PA*
  • Municipal utilities authorities located in Erie County, PA

*The City of Erie is ineligible to apply for Municipal Infrastructure Gap Funding from Erie County.


OTHER ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

To be eligible for Municipal Infrastructure Gap Funding, applicants must:

  • Have applied for and received their ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds allocation through either the US Department of the Treasury or the PA Department of Community and Economic Development,
  • Show a need for additional or “gap” funding for their proposed water, sewer, or broadband project(s) – the County’s CLFRF funding may not be the only source of cash for proposed project(s),
  • Align proposed projects and programs with priorities and recommendations identified by Emerge 2040, as well as any other relevant existing community plans,
  • Complete proposed projects within the CLFRF timeframe - funds must be allocated/committed by December 31, 2024 and spent, with goods and services received, by December 31, 2026;
  • Adhere to contemporary practices/policies with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and
  • Employ strong labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefits agreements that offer wages at or above the prevailing rate and include local hire provisions, not only to promote effective and efficient delivery of high-quality infrastructure projects but also to support the economic recovery through strong employment opportunities for workers.


ELIGIBLE USES OF FUNDING

Under federal law, Erie County’s CLFRF monies may be used “to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.” The US Department of the Treasury’s Interim Final Rule allows for a broad range of necessary investments in projects that improve access to clean drinking water, improve wastewater and stormwater infrastructure systems, and provide access to high-quality broadband service.

WATER AND SEWER INFRASTRUCTURE

Eligible uses for Gap Funding include projects to consolidate or establish drinking water systems, construct, improve, and repair wastewater treatment plants, manage and treat stormwater or subsurface drainage water, facilitate water conservation and reuse, control non-point sources of pollution, improve resilience of infrastructure to severe weather events, create green infrastructure, reduce the energy consumption of public water treatment facilities, protect waterbodies from pollution, and improve drinking water infrastructure, such as building or upgrading facilities and transmission, distribution, and storage systems, including replacement of lead service lines.

Green infrastructure projects that support stormwater system resiliency may include rain gardens that provide water storage and filtration benefits, and green streets, where vegetation, soil, and engineered systems are combined to direct and filter rainwater from impervious surfaces.

Gap Funding may also be used to secure publicly owned treatment works, such as cybersecurity needs to protect water or sewer infrastructure.

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • Ensure compliance with applicable health and environmental safety requirements;
  • Address the most serious risks to human health; and
  • Assist systems most in need on a per household basis according to State affordability criteria.

BROADBAND

The US Department of the Treasury’s Interim Final Rule states that eligible investments in broadband are those that are designed to provide services meeting adequate speeds and are provided to unserved and underserved households and businesses. Under the Interim Final Rule, eligible projects are expected to be designed to deliver, upon project completion, service that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100 Mbps.

There may be instances in which it would not be practicable for a project to deliver such service speeds because of the geography, topography, or excessive costs associated with such a project. In these instances, the affected project would be expected to be designed to deliver, upon project completion, service that reliably meets or exceeds 100 Mbps download and between at least 20 Mbps and 100 Mbps upload speeds and be scalable to a minimum of 100 Mbps symmetrical for download and upload speeds.

The Interim Final Rule treats users as being unserved or underserved if they lack access to a wireline connection capable of reliably delivering at least minimum speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, as households and businesses lacking this level of access are generally not viewed as being able to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications.

To meet the immediate needs of unserved and underserved households and businesses, applicants are encouraged to focus on projects that deliver a physical broadband connection by prioritizing projects that achieve last mile-connections. Applicants are also encouraged to prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives—providers with less pressure to turn profits and with a commitment to serving entire communities.


Applicants may use Gap Funding from Erie County to cover costs incurred after March 3, 2021 for eligible projects.

Ineligible uses of these funds include, but are not limited to, the payment of debt service, to satisfy a judgement or settlement, contribute to a “rainy day” or pension fund, or the purchasing of vehicles.

The maximum request amount per applicant is $250,000, though the county reserves the right to award funding in an amount greater than the maximum request amount based on the scope of work, number of county residents to be served by the proposed project, and prioritization of the proposed project in existing community plans.


ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS

Recipients of Erie County CLFRF funds that expend more than $750,000 in federal awards during their fiscal year will be subject to an audit under the Single Audit Act and its implementing regulation at 2 CFR Part 200, Subpart F regarding audit requirements.

Documenting expenditures is essential to managing compliance risk and minimizing the possibility that costs are deemed ineligible, thereby requiring that the municipality return funds to Erie County.

For a period of five years, recipients of Erie County CLFRF funds are obligated to retain records relating to the use of the monies, including, but not limited to, invoices, contracts, receipts, purchase orders, correspondence, and records demonstrating that funds were spent for purposes permitted by the ARPA and related federal guidance. Such records must be made available to representatives of Erie County upon request and in the requested format.


QUESTIONS?

Questions may be directed to Melinda Meyer at the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development at mmeyer@eriecountypa.gov

Erie County, Pennsylvania