The Skagit County Board of Commissioners on Friday approved spending about $200,000 in American Rescue Act Plan funding.
A $112,500 commitment was made to Skagit Legal Aid to help create a program that will connect county residents with federal COVID-19 relief.
Deputy county administrator Kayla Schott-Bresler said those who do not file tax returns do not have access to the new expanded Child Tax Credit and earlier COVID-19 stimulus payments. This program will help nonfilers file their 2020 returns and get access to this funding.
With the decisions made Friday, the commissioners have allocated about $23.1 million of the county's $25 million in federal relief funding.
Andy Dugan, executive director of Skagit Legal Aid, said the new program will assist nonfilers in resolving the issues that keep them from filing.
He estimated 2,600 to 3,900 people in Skagit County are nonfilers, saying this program could have a multimillion dollar impact on county residents — and specifically low-income residents.
Schott-Bresler said it's possible the county will recoup its investment in the program. Residents who are given this federal assistance are likely to spend more money in the county, thereby providing more tax revenue.
Another $75,000 was committed by the commissioners to the human resources department to hire a temporary assistant who could help with additional work created by the pandemic.
Schott-Bresler said some county departments are subject to vaccine mandates, and human resources is responsible for making sure the mandates are followed and helping with contact tracing if an employee gets COVID-19.
Managing both of these creates an additional burden on the department, and is interfering with its regular work, she said.
This position is set to expire at the end of 2022, but could be extended if pandemic-related work still exists, she said.
The Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County will receive $12,500 to assist with its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Schott-Bresler said EDASC had a contract for $40,000 from another county fund, which will be replaced by this smaller amount of funding. Commissioners raised concerns with the direction of the plan at a Sept. 10 meeting, resulting in a smaller contract and a narrower focus.