Six cities and towns in Dale County are calling for an investigation into the county government’s use of federal funding.

According to the Dothan Eagle, a complaint to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee was filed recently by the Dothan law firm of Jones, Cobb, Wadsworth and Davis LLC on behalf of Ozark, Midland City, Grimes, Napier Field, Newton, and Pinckard “asking for an investigation into the Dale County Commission’s distribution of ARPA funds.”

“It is our hope that you will require the Dale County Commission to reevaluate their distribution method,” wrote Jordan S. Davis, an attorney representing the municipalities in the complaint, calling the county’s distribution plan a “misuse of funds.”

Davis wrote, ”[T]he distribution, rather than utilizing number of EMS pick-ups, the population of the area covered, or any other reasonable methodology previously used when distributing EMS funding for the county, relied strictly on the square mileage of areas covered by the EMS outside municipal police jurisdiction limits.” 

“This allocation gives the bulk of the funds, approximately $1.2 million, to an EMS provider for Echo, a sparsely populated unincorporated area in Dale County,” Davis wrote in the complaint according to the Dothan Eagle. “Conversely, the EMS for Ozark, the largest municipality in the County, receives only $36,000. If the distribution had been made based upon population, Ozark would have received approximately $450,000 in funding.”

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021. It provided about $350 billion in funding to state and local governments across the nation. Dale County received about $9.3 million in ARPA funding, according to the Dothan Eagle. State and local governments have until Dec. 31, 2024, to “obligate” the funds and until Dec. 31, 2026, to spend the funds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to the Dothan Eagle, Dale County Commission chairman Steve McKinnon said in a written statement, “Dale County is proud of the bold initiative it has undertaken to use the county’s American Rescue Plan Act Funds, designated as revenue replacement funds, to support improvements to the delivery of emergency responder ambulance services in the county.

“The goal of the current initiative is to improve and ensure the reliable delivery of vital emergency medical transport services to citizens both living in and traveling through the unincorporated, more rural areas of Dale County. The consistent availability of timely emergency services to these areas will save lives and help to maintain the safety and quality of life for all Dale County citizens.”

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