CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — Millions of dollars in promised American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to nonprofit groups and special projects that were promised by the county could be named ineligible thanks to flawed recommendations from a consultant group.
When dealing with ARPA funding, all municipalities have to follow rules. To help make sure they were in compliance, Nueces County hired Hagerty Consulting to assist with the disbursement of funding, to make sure each group met the requirements for this government aid.
Initially, the company was hired on a $100,000 contract by former county judge Barbara Canales using her emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic and later retained by the county for $1 million dollars. The county renewed that contract last year.
Among responsibilities include advising commissioners if funding requests for ARPA would be authorized, but as it turns out, some requirements for the ARPA funding may not have been met according to a document obtained by 6 Investigates.
Now, millions of dollars that were promised to charities and even projects such as Bob Hall Pier may have a harder time receiving the money.
"With the former county judge assuring us that we can do all this, and now we are finding out we can't, we are having to clean up a big mess, and it's a big mess for these charities," said Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney. "They have been waiting, we all have been waiting, and I feel bad we all feel bad, and I want to get them the money, and we are going to figure out a way to get them the money."
The contract with Hagerty was extended in September and is set to expire at the end of February. Chesney tells KRIS 6 that they will not be renewing the contract, especially as the court has hired its own ARPA manager.
Hagerty was also in charge of COVID-19 relief funding, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and winter storm events, some of which commissioners have previously been briefed, were not reimbursed.
But all is not lost when it comes to the funding, as county judge Connie Scott tells us, the commissioner's court will be looking into all possible solutions.
"There are a lot of things that we are going to do to try to make sure that these programs go forward, but the entities that are asking for this funding have to be willing to come to the table with us and provide the information we need," said Judge Scott. "We need to get these people the money so they can use it to benefit our citizens and community here in Nueces County."
It's unknown exactly how much of the $70.3 million in ARPA funding originally allocated may not be eligible, as more research needs to be done by the new county ARPA manager, but 6 Investigates will stay on top of this story.