More federal relief money than expected headed to Whidbey

Whidbey Island will soon receive millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan funding.

Whidbey Island will soon receive millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan funding after Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley accepted the money this month.

The amounts the municipalities will receive is more than previously estimated. Oak Harbor, the island’s largest city, was allotted $6,578,122. The federal government allotted Coupeville $550,480 and Langley $318,229, both of which are a fraction of Oak Harbor’s size by population.

Island County will get $16.5 million.

The cities will receive half of the money this year and half next year. Oak Harbor City council members unanimously voted to accept the funds on Tuesday ahead of a Friday deadline by the state Office of Financial Management’s target date of June 27.

Local governments have more leeway in how they use the funds compared to prior federal coronavirus relief packages. Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes said the town would look at options to use the federal funding for water and sewer infrastructure projects, ways to promote tourism or to support nonprofits that focus on child care and emergency housing.

Langley Finance Director Monica Felici said city council members have not discussed how to use the funds yet, but that the topic may be on Monday night’s meeting agenda. They will also discuss it in July when they discuss the city budget.

Oak Harbor City Council members will discuss some of the ways the city may use the funding at a June 30 workshop meeting.

Island County commissioners recently had a meeting about the funds but made no decisions.

Local governments have until Dec. 31, 2024 to commit the funds to projects.