More than $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding available at the county level for Island organizations affected by the pandemic remains tied up in talks about bookkeeping and process.

After learning months ago that they would receive the federal money, the county commission appointed a steering committee made up of commission members and other Island officials to vet and recommend a list of preferred projects for funding.

The list became a sticking point at a commission meeting Monday.

The commission has received 22 letters of interest totaling close to $8 million in requests. Last month the steering committee last month recommended a number of projects, including a $750,000 bid from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for a pilot program introducing nitrogen-reducing septic technology, and a $500,000 request from the town of Edgartown for its wastewater plant.

Discussion bogged down over deciding which projects would be invited to give presentations to the commission — and even whether to allow new applications.

Commission member Tristan Israel rejected the notion that any further applications be accepted.

“We have a recommendation from a committee we set up,” he said. “The merits of that and where that’s at needs to be discussed by us.”

Commissioner Peter Wharton said it may be too early to discuss distribution of the funds, noting that accounting will have to be directly tied to descriptions in the ARPA legislation. He said other government bodies undergoing the same process, including Plymouth county, have not yet decided on distribution of funds.

“They haven’t even taken an application yet,” Mr. Wharton said, referring to Plymouth. “I would love to say we can write a check now,” he added.

County manager Martina Thornton told the Gazette Tuesday that the county has received half the funds, with the other half due to be received in 2022.

At the meeting Monday, despite a call at the outset to keep matters focused on process and not specific funding applications, the commission mulled bypassing its decision-making process to give Island Health Care $105,000, responding a request received last month to help cover costs.

“It’s clear to me that Island Health Care needs the money for expenses they’ve already had,” commissioner John Cahill said.

Island Health Care is the Island’s only federally qualified community health center.

But other commissioners rejected the notion that one organization should be allowed an expedited process for funding, regardless of need.

“I am absolutely, 100 per cent against just saying we’re going to fund them,” Mr. Wharton said. “I think it’s the wrong way to go.”

Mr. Israel reiterated that the commission was casting aside its own procedures for decision-making.

“We’re talking about doing all these things outside the process that we set up,” he said.

Discussion remains ongoing about how to distribute the federal funds.

In other business Monday, commissioners approved a series of recurring annual town meeting warrant articles to allocate funding for regional programs.

Commission chairman Christine Todd, who did not attend the meeting, was reappointed as the county representative on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.