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Commissioners approve use of American Rescue Plan funds, reinstates county burn ban

Stephens County Commissioners approved the use of federal funds disbursed to the county from the American Rescue Plan during their regular meeting last Monday. The county also reinstated a countywide burn ban.

The county received $1.82 million in fiscal recovery funds, which will be disbursed in two installments of $909,618, with the second installment arriving 12 months after the first.

According to the Texas Association of Counties website, funds from the ARP are to be spent on supporting the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic; addressing the negative economic effects caused by COVID-19 by aiding workers and families, small businesses, nonprofits or industries such as tourism and travel that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic; replacing lost public sector revenue; providing premium pay for workers performing essential work during the pandemic, which is defined as an additional amount up to $13 per hour, with a cap of $25,000 for any individual eligible worker and can be retroactive; investing in water and sewer infrastructure; or investing in broadband infrastructure.

Counties can’t deposit the funds into a pension program, fund debt service, pay legal settlements or judgments, or deposit recovery money into rainy day funds or financial reserves.

The county plans to utilize the funds to improve tourism by making improvements to the Stephens County rodeo grounds and the Stephens County airport.

After a brief presentation by Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney, where he stated that two controlled burns had gotten out of hand, the burn ban was reinstated.

The ban will remain in effect, unless the order is rescinded by either the court or Texas Forest Service. The ban does not prohibit burning activities related to health and safety authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training, public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations, or planting or harvesting of agricultural crops, or burns that are conducted by a prescribed burn manager, according to the order.

A violation of the order is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 under the Local Government Code.

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Breckenridge American


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