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County details how it spent CARES funds

Albemarle County has spent or allocated nearly all of its CARES Act money.

The county received about $19 million of Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 Coronavirus Relief Fund money in two rounds last year.

About $9.1 million went to general county services and obligations; $1 million to technology, including broadband internet; $3.4 million to human services; and $5.4 million toward economic development.

Originally, Albemarle had until the end of this past December to spend the funds, but that was later extended to December 2021.

“We created a compliance team to track all of the updates and frequently asked questions, so that we could make sure that legally we were complying to everything and that our programming that we were recommending followed that guidance to protect our organization,” Kirsty Shifflett, director of the county’s Project Management Office, told the Board of Supervisors at its meeting Wednesday.

In July, the board approved a plan to allocate the first round of $9.5 million, and then the county received a second round of $9.5 million later that summer.

Of the $9.1 million that went to the general government, $7.1 million was used to reimburse county public safety pay, $253,000 went to the county’s ambassador programming and $100,000 went to the town of Scottsville, which was spent on personal protective equipment, business assistance, telework and technology, according to Albemarle County.

The additional $1.65 million went to air purification/bipolar ionization for county office buildings, childcare programming for employees, personal protective equipment, online training, janitorial and sanitization services and visitor entrance screening.

About 37 employees received childcare support and about 145 fire and rescue employees received online training.

Approximately $3.2 million went toward business grants, $1.4 million went to nonprofit grants and $620,000 went toward a program to offset costs of outdoor expansion for local businesses with a safe spaces/places program.

Shifflett said 133 businesses received grant funding, ranging from $2,000 to $50,000, and 45 businesses were assisted with the safe spaces/places program.

An additional $1.6 million went to nonprofit grants; $1.2 million to emergency financial assistance to households; $14,000 toward masks for the community; and $10,000 was used to help create the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership’s affordable housing search hub.

At least 75 nonprofits received grants to provide community support, 1,000 households received emergency assistance and 50,000 masks were distributed.

About $273,000 went to purchase equipment for teleworking, $64,000 was used for the digital automation of manual processes and administration and broadband expansion and WiFi at the Greenwood Community Center received $705,000.

“We’ve transitioned a lot of staff from where they had desktops, we were able to get them laptops so that they can continue working from home,” Shifflett said.

Approximately 138 laptops were purchased for remote workers.

The county also created a reserve of $7.1 million, of which $2 million will go toward broadband accessibility, $1.2 million will go toward human services support, $800,000 will go toward general government and $489,000 will go toward COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

Earlier this week at a fiscal year 2022 budget work session, Albemarle’s chief financial officer, Nelsie Birch, said the county could receive about $21 million from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden last week.

“That’s kind of just the beginning, and so it goes from there,” she said. “We’re not sure when we’re going to get it. [We] know it’s over two different tranches of funding, [we] know that we have to spend it by Dec. 31, 2024. But the details of what we can spend it on are what’s making us as staff a little bit more cautious, because it’s a little confusing.”

She proposed that a March 29 budget work session would be dedicated to the American Rescue Plan.

“Hopefully, at that point in time, we will know more,” Birch said.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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