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Winnebago County looks for suggestions on where to spend surplus

Winnebago County Spirit Funds
Posted at 7:48 PM, Jul 10, 2023

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Winnebago County has an extra $33 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds set aside for a newly created "Spirit Fund," and is looking for input from community members on how to spend it.

County Executive Jon Doemel says the county has already set aside some of that money for projects like improvements to government buildings, but has created a project assessment survey where people can bring their own ideas for projects the county can put the money toward.

He hopes that getting input from the community, will help ensure the county's biggest needs are met.

“I want to make sure that every penny of this goes to increasing the resiliency of our community, and our non-profits and our people…" he said, "not so much safety nets for people, but trampolines, to help them get back on their feet.”

Doemel says he won't be involved in deciding which projects get funded, though, but has appointed a four-person citizen review panel to present survey data and project requests to the County Board.

Oshkosh Area United Way President and CEO Beth Oswald is on the panel, and says she believes it's important for non-profits to get a piece of the funding.

“[Non-profits] work with a lot of government entities to provide services to the community and individuals, which is actually cost savings for the government..." said Oswald. "I think it’s important that some of this money get filtered out to non-profits, because they are the ones who work with the individuals within Winnebago County.”

Ruby Owl Tap Room Assistant Manager Peter Abraham says he'd like to see some of the money go toward protecting the environment.

“I would like to see more conservation efforts and projects being forward to keep our river ways and waterways as well as the lake clean and accessible to everyone in the community… [a] lot of our projects involving the community [do] revolve around the lake and the river, as long as we’re able to keep everything healthy and moving, I think it’d be a good support to our community.”

The survey will be available to fill out on Winnebago County's website through August 4.