$36.7M and counting: How Abilene & Taylor Co. are spending COVID-19 relief funds

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene has received $23.7 million this year from COVID Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and is expecting another $10.7 million from ARPA next fiscal year. 

Taylor County so far has received $13 million and is expecting another $13 million next year. 

So where is that money going?

“We have spent the majority of it for the last two years on public safety and public health salaries,” said City of Abilene Director of Finance Mike Rains. 

Rains says the City of Abilene has spent most of the $13 million from the CARES act. 

“So, about $5.5 million went toward that, we spent another $4 million on our transit operations, another $1.1 million on airport operations,” said Rains. 

Another $1.2 million was spent on community outreach in partnership with United Way and the Community Foundation of Abilene.

“The remainder of it has gone towards actual public health expenses, face masks sanitizer that sort of things, operating our vaccination clinics, testing sites, contact tracing,” said Rains. 

The city has received $10.7 million from ARPA. They say right now it is in the reserves to help make up for the $14 million in lost revenue during COVID. 

Abilene will receive another $10.7 million next fiscal year. 

“We have to show we spent them on a governmental purpose, so that will be determined what those governmental purposes are going forward,” said Rains. 

Taylor County has received $13 million for COVID relief funding 

“We have requests coming in,” said Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls. 

Bolls says they have not spent any of it, and will be putting together a citizens committee to determine if their requests can be made. 

“So, the commissioners court doesn’t have to do that, they will advise the commissioners court, they will weigh through the request and those kinds of things,” said Bolls. 

Taylor County will be receiving another $13 million next fiscal year. 

If a city department has requested funding, it goes through Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna and then through city council if it exceeded more than $50,000. 

Judge Bolls says the county has been getting requests so far for broadband and educational purposes. 

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