Counties have far more unspent ARPA fiscal relief funds than cities and states: Funds should be used to make equity-enhancing investments

Most of the $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) allocated under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) remains unspent. County governments, in particular, have been slow to spend or obligate their fiscal recovery funds compared with cities and states. Those that have spent a large share of their allocation have generally used the funds for basic revenue replacement, which makes it less likely counties will take advantage of the flexibility allowed under SLFRF rules to make new investments to advance equity. Counties have myriad opportunities to use remaining SLFRF dollars to help working families, and advocates should encourage them to do so.

County governments were granted $65.1 billion in fiscal recovery funds, and $52.4 million of that went to 882 larger counties that have more frequent reporting requirements than smaller counties. As of the last reporting deadline on December 31, these larger counties have spent less than 27% of that money and obligated just 41% of it. This is substantially less than the pace of SLFRF spending by cities and states, as shown in Figure A below. Counties only have until December 31, 2024, to obligate these funds.

Counties lag behind states and cities in SLFRF usage: Share of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) obligated and spent by states, cities, and counties

Jurisdiction type SLFRF share obligated SLFRF share spent
States 55.4% 41.8%
Cities 50.2% 38.4%
Counties 40.6% 26.8%
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