Scott County reportedly gets greenlight to use ARPA money for juvenile detention center

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 1:12 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Thursday evening, Scott County officials will take a look at its capital projects, which may see the use of millions in covid relief funds to build the new juvenile detention center in Davenport.

In February, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa wrote a letter to Scott County and the US Treasury Department, calling the county’s plan to use $7 million in ARPA funds for the Youth Justice and Rehabilitation center, “unlawful.”

However, the Board of Supervisors argues the use of these funds falls under what is called the lost revenue provision of ARPA.

Seven months later the civil rights organization is disappointed to hear the Treasury may give the county the green light for the plan.

The ACLU hasn’t heard directly from the Treasury about its reported approval of the county’s plan to fund the YJRC.

However, Executive Director Mark Stringer, said if recent reports are true, it would contradict previous statements made by the agency.

“We think it’s a misuse of funds to begin with,” Stringer said. “We don’t like the idea of a new and expanded juvenile detention center anyway. So both of those things combined is what led us to get involved.”

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors believes it is operating according to the Treasury’s guidelines.

In total, the county received about $33 million from ARPA.

David Farmer, the Director of Budget and Administrative Services said they allocated $10 million in ARPA money under the lost revenue provision to their capital resources.

“They identified it to be kind of wide open for any capital project within the county that meets general government services,” Farmer said. “That is a requirement of the lost revenue provision is that you use it for general government services.

As far as the next steps, the county will look at the next two to three years of capital projects on Thursday.

Farmer said the Treasury will not preapprove any projects using ARPA money, and that the county board can still direct him to allocate the funds for the YJRC from somewhere else.

“We as a county have not received any direct communication from the U.S. Treasury about our intended use of this money,” Farmer said. “We believe that the guidance that they’ve provided it’s been pretty clear and consistent. And this meets the purpose "

Regardless, the ACLU will continue to advocate against the project. They believe an expanded facility will cause more racial disparities in Scott County.

“Black children and their families will be disproportionately targeted by the legal system even more if there’s more beds for them and more space in the juvenile detention center for them to be funneled to,” Stringer said.

TV6 News reached out to the U.S. Treasury, but they did not respond to our multiple requests for comment.