“Tell us what YOU think!” That’s what Talbot County is saying to its citizens as elected officials make final decisions about how to spend the relief funding the government received as part of the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

Referred to by the acronym ARPA, the legislation was passed into law on March 11 and included funding for state and local governments. The local funding portion was divided between cities and counties across the country, with the Talbot County government receiving $7,211,026.

Eligible uses for these funds includes addressing the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 with assistance to small businesses, households, and hard-hit industries. Locals jurisdictions also can invest in infrastructure projects, including water, sewer, and broadband. Funding must be allocated by the end of calendar year 2024.

Talbot County Council Vice President Pete Lesher is leading the work group that will make recommendations to the full council. The funding is key to the county’s ongoing recovery efforts, he says, and the County Council wants to hear from county residents about the best use of the money.

“Citizen input is — and should be — important to the decisions Talbot County will make in allocating the one-time-only funding we are receiving through the ARPA program,” Lesher says. “Because the allowable uses of this funding are so broad, I urge Talbot

County residents to participate in the survey to help inform us of what they see as our highest priorities.”

The survey is available in both English and Spanish on the county’s website at TalbotCountyMD.gov. It is also available digitally and in print at the Talbot County Free Library locations in Easton and St. Michaels.

Talbot County citizens have until January 16 to participate in the survey. For more information, call the County Manager’s Office at (410) 770-8010.