Otter Tail County invests big chunk of its American Rescue Plan money into housing and broadband

Detention facility to get a body scanner

Otter Tail County Commissioner Wayne Johnson. Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Commissioner Wayne Johnson. Tom Hintgen
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PERHAM — Otter Tail County commissioners have pinpointed how to spend about half of the $11.4 million allocated to the county via the American Rescue Plan Act.

During the County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 12 resolutions on fund allocations were reviewed. The funds come with stipulations, such as to decrease the spread of the virus, replace lost revenue for governmental entities, economic stabilization and to address public health challenges.

Here's how commissioners decided to spend $5.64 million of the county's ARPA funds:

  • $191,650 will be spent to purchase a body scanner to help prevent drugs and other contraband being smuggled into the county’s detention facility.
  • $500,000 will be used to pay for a social worker position at the detention center for five years. The social worker will assist inmates with mental illness or chemical dependency get on the road to a healthy lifestyle through pre-release planning.
  • $2.8 million will go to technological infrastructure, such as broadband access expansion. It was noted the improvements in the county would also utilize state and federal sources. 
  • $1.7 million will be directed towards providing housing options. The resolution stated the funds would be aimed at promoting “the development of a range of housing options that meet the needs of all affordability levels by supporting the development of new ownership and rental housing which is affordable to low- and moderate-income households.”
  • $300,000 was also earmarked for general government services in the same resolution as the housing investment plan. The governmental funds are to be used “to provide opportunities for a variety of housing types throughout the county by supporting reinvestment and maintenance of existing housing stock,” the resolution states.
  • $150,000 was earmarked for funding a jobs portal for three years. The strategy supports efforts to attract new employees and by doing so support businesses in the county that provide a living wage.
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