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United Way of Lancaster County


County commissioners approve ARPA grants, contract for election results website (update)

Lancaster County Government Center, 150 N. Queen St. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Update, April 3: On Wednesday, the county commissioners unanimously approved American Rescue Plan Act allocations to the Lancaster Farmland Trust and Clean Water Partners and a one-year contract with Enhanced Voting.

Originally reported:

The Lancaster County commissioners plan to vote Wednesday on two community American Rescue Plan Act grants for environmental projects and on a contract for a new election results website.

As discussed last week, the ARPA grants, if approved, will go to the Lancaster Farmland Trust and, via the Lancaster County Conservation District, to the Lancaster Clean Water Partners coalition.

The trust plans to put its grant, $299,069, toward conserving four high-priority farms. Their acreage totals 265 acres, according to documentation provided in the commissioners’ Wednesday meeting packet.

Clean Water Partners, meanwhile, will put its grant, $172,131, toward purchasing of water quality monitors. The equipment will dramatically improve data collection capabilities, reducing turnaround time from six months to 15 minutes, conservation district Manager Chris Thompson and Clean Water Partners Executive Director Allyson Gibson told the commissioners last week.

The two grants would complete the county’s second round of community ARPA grants, for which the commissioners set a budget of $6 million. They have left open at least some possibility that additional grants could be made from the ARPA remaining in the county’s reserves, if there are no internal county uses for it.

Approval of the grants would leave $6.9 million of county ARPA remaining. About $3.3 million of that is budgeted for revenue replacement and redesign of the county website, leaving a reserve of $3.6 million that is as yet unallocated. Under federal law governing the pandemic relief funds, all ARPA dollars must be earmarked by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

Virginia’s is one of the states that uses Enhanced Voting’s platform for its election results website. Click to enlarge. (Source:

As for the election results website, the commissioners in their capacity as the county Election Board approved moving ahead with the idea two weeks ago. Wednesday’s vote will be on approving a contract with vendor Enhanced Voting.

The $37,800 contract is for one year, from April through next March, and is covered by Lancaster County’s election integrity grant from the state, Elections Chief Clerk Christa Miller said. Assuming everything goes smoothly, she said, the intent would be to follow that up with a five-year contract next year.

In many ways, Enhanced Voting’s system isn’t that different from competing products that the county considered, but it has superior cybersecurity, Miller said. It meets multiple industry security standards and provides a level of protection that other products don’t, Russ Hauser of the county’s IT department said.

Miller assured the commissioners her team and Enhanced Voting intend to have the site ready for the April 23 primary election. Assuming the contract is approved, staff plan to begin training on the system Wednesday afternoon.