The cities and counties of the Columbia Gorge are making plans now to spend the millions coming next month from the American Rescue Plan Act, the same act that awarded stimulus funds to individuals. The funds to governmental bodies are meant to offset losses caused by the pandemic.

During the coming weeks, local governments will be setting priorities for those funds, the first half arriving next month, and the second next year.

Hood River County Commissioner Arthur Babitz April 26 presented potential priorities for the $4.5 million coming to the county, at a work session “to begin a conversation,” he said. Concrete plans will be made when the funds are in hand.

Ending the pandemic with widespread Immunizations in the county is the first priority for spending, Babitz suggested. Continuing county services, assisting in economic recovery and dealing with new economic realities followed his first priority.

After listing several vaccination projects for funding, Babitz examples for projects included refunding County losses so it can continue programs — the County Fair, the Transient Room Tax, and Corrections, for example. To address new economic realities Babitz suggested funding general business and economic development grant programs, among other suggestions.