Moore County officials are working quickly on developing how to spend $1.89 million in federal stimulus funds.
The funds, allocated through the state, can cover expenses related to the coronavirus that were not accounted for in the current budget, such as medical, public health, payroll and other related needs.
Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to apply for its share of the funds. Counties must submit a plan to the N.C. Office of Budget and Management by June 1.
The General Assembly initially allocated $150 million of the $4 billion the state received from the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security) to 97 of its 100 counties.
Wake, Mecklenburg and Guilford counties, and the city of Charlotte, received direct federal allocations because of their populations.
County boards of commissioners can allocate some of their funds to municipalities if it meets the criteria as “a necessary expenditure due to the public health emergency.”
Another $150 million for counties is being reserved by the state until the federal government determines whether any of those funds can be used to replace lost revenues as a result of the pandemic, county Internal Auditor Tami Golden told commissioners. She said the state has stressed that money from this first allocation cannot be used to replace lost revenues.
Each of the 97 counties received a base allocation of $250,000, with the remainder based on population, she said. It is to cover expenses incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.
Golden said the state is “working very diligently” to release the funds to counties before the plans are submitted.
“It is very broad,” said of the expenses the funds can be used to cover. “But they must have something in hand by June 1.”
Golden said counties will be allowed to revise their plans if needed. She gave commissioners some examples of expenses that meet the criteria:
* Purchase of testing materials and personal protective equipment;
* Sanitizing the county jail; and
* Payroll expenses for employees who are shifted from their normal duties to things related to the virus response.
Commissioners were told that as of May 17, officials have documented about $100,000 in payroll expenses.
Golden said the criteria allowing funds to be used for “the provision of economic support,” could include small grants to businesses, nonprofit agencies and municipalities. She said the county would be responsible for ensuring that the funds are spent properly.
She said county staff are continuing to identify expenses that could qualify and that they are awaiting updates from the state on the remaining $150 million.
“We’re still gathering information and asking questions,” she told commissioners.
Board Chairman Frank Quis responded, “We have a thousand questions. We have such a short time.
“Obviously we are going to move to approve the application,” Quis said.
He asked that Golden, County Manager Wayne Vest, Assistant County Manager Janet Paris and Finance Officer Caroline Xiong “get your heads together about how we might get through this quickly” and get back to the commissioners with a plan.
Golden said any funds unspent as of Dec. 30 must be returned to the state.
Also during the meeting, commissioners:
* Unanimously approved a final change in the contract for a major sewer interceptor line replacement project along U.S. 15-501 through part of Pinehurst No. 7 that reduced the total amount by $133,277.
Public Works Director Randy Gould the methods implemented by the contractor led to the savings by not having to perform some items. The original contract approved last September totaled slightly more than $2 million.
The project required closing some holes on the golf course this winter as well as closing Inverarry Road at the 15-501 entrance and detouring traffic to two other entrances.
Gould told commissioners previously that the old line, which was also relocated from a swampy area known as Devil’s Gut closer to the highway, had deteriorated to the point that it needed to be replaced. It was installed in 1977 as part of the construction of the southern Moore County wastewater treatment plant in Addor,
* Approved a new contract totaling $130,000 with Hilco Transport Inc to haul recycling materials from the transfer station at the Moore County Landfill to Pratt Recycling in Fayetteville.
Solid Waste Director David Lambert said funding is included in the proposed fiscal year 2020-2021 budget.
*Approved a new contract with a company to grind yard waste such as limbs, leaves and grass clippings and land clearing debris for the coming fiscal year at a cost of $9.95 a ton or an annual amount not to exceed $237,000.
Lambert said the county landfill has contracted with Simmons and Simmons Management for several years and it offered the lowest bid and that it has “proven to be a reliable company.” He said 23,000 tons of the material are grinded annually.
Funding for the service is included in the proposed fiscal year 2020-2021 budget.
Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org