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Guest Editorial: Commission discusses APRA funds

After a tumultuous year for all of us – (How is that for an understatement?!) – our communities and citizens of Gallatin County are now facing a historic opportunity. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which Congress passed in March, has delivered significant sums of federal stimulus dollars to our state, to Gallatin County, and to many of the towns.

During the 2021 Montana legislative session, lawmakers appropriated $2.1 billion through House Bill 632. These funds will be spread across the state in support of services ranging from basic infrastructure, broadband, business and housing, and health and human services.

Here at Gallatin County, we are set to receive $22 million. The City of Bozeman will receive $12 million; Belgrade $1.2 million; Three Forks $262,463; Manhattan $243,433; and West Yellowstone $175,742. This investment, when considered in tandem with the 2020 CARES Act and the possibility of a 2021 infrastructure spending package, represent historic federal investment in our nation’s communities, on par with the New Deal era spending that came after WWII.

As your Gallatin County Commissioners, we are committed to a decision-making process defined by careful thought, inclusive dialogue, strategic coordination with other local governments and community stakeholders, and eventually, decisive actions that make sustainable investments in our county and its citizens.

To begin this process, we are setting up listening session meetings to explore opportunities for how to spend Gallatin County’s allocation in the following categories:

- Economic recovery and housing

- Behavioral health

- Water and sewer infrastructure

If you have ideas for projects in these categories, or an argument for considering other authorized uses (allowed by the published federal Treasury guidance –, we would love to hear from you. Please visit our website at for more information on how to engage in our decision making process.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for our communities, and with your help, we will get this right.

Scott MacFarlane, Joe Skinner, Zach Brown

Gallatin County Commissioners