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Nelson supervisors to soon determine uses of CARES Act funding

Nelson supervisors to soon determine uses of CARES Act funding

Photo: emx_20200423_nct_news_seniors_p9

Nelson County High School athletic director Greg Mullins, right, and French teacher Meaghan Schray wore face masks while preparing for a tribute for the Nelson senior Class of 2020 in April. 

The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will hold a special called meeting July 30 to determine uses for the $1.3 million the county received in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

As of the board’s July 14 meeting, the current amount of federal relief money available to the county is insufficient to cover all requests for its use in the four categories of general government, Nelson County Public Schools, emergency medical services and public safety needs and community relief initiatives. Total requests exceed available funds by about $162,000.

The largest change to the initial proposal brought before the board in June comes in the form of a roughly $630,000 request from Nelson County Public Schools, about 48% of the county’s total CARES Act relief funding.

That funding, according to Nelson County Public Schools Superintendent Martha Eagle, would facilitate technological needs for students’ return to school via either the hybrid or 100% online options the division is considering. The hybrid model will consist of days spent both in the classroom and at home.

The $630,000 from the county would be on top of an additional roughly $424,000 through the school system’s own portion of CARES Act funding. Eagle noted the division has not yet received that money and the state has recommended the division not spend that money until state revenue is known. NCPS has until 2022 to spend the money unlike the funding made available to the county. The deadline for localities to use the money made available by the CARES Act on coronavirus-related expenses is Dec. 30.

“This isn’t for the school, it’s for the families and the students. Our intent is to go into the school year, we hope, on a hybrid model … we don’t know if that’s going to happen,” Eagle said. “We have a lot of families who don’t have access to technology.”

Documents state if there is no loss in state or other revenues the $424,000 allocated to Nelson County Public Schools will be used for additional cleaning and staffing for hybrid learning, which includes emotional and social learning support and technological needs.

Nelson County Public Schools has not officially released a reopening plan as of Monday.

The fate of the small business relief grant, which is part of the community relief initiatives category, also rests with the July 30 meeting.

The grant program, written by Director of Economic Development and Tourism Maureen Kelley and included in the initial proposal, would provide qualifying small businesses in Nelson County that present documented revenue loss because of COVID-19 with financial support based on the number of full-time employees.

According to the draft grant, non-eligible businesses include banks and financial institutions, home-based businesses, franchise businesses — unless they are locally owned and operated — and nonprofits.

Currently, $350,000 is set aside for small business relief, but County Administrator Steve Carter said supervisors could allocate more if they see fit.

Several additions have been made to the proposed list of funding in the four categories, including a transport van for the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, breathing apparatus masks for firefighters and ventilators for rescue squads. The general government category, which initially had the highest allocation of funds, now has the lowest at about $111,000 because of reductions made to anticipated payroll expenses in that category.

A total of $55,885 in CARES Act funding has been spent as of June 30 on items in both the general government and public safety categories, documents state. So far, the county has used funds to implement cleaning and protective health measures in county offices as well as a turnout gear extractor for firefighters and generators for Gladstone Fire & Rescue.

Reach Cropper at (434) 385-5522.

Nick Cropper covers Nelson County. Reach him at (434) 385-5522.

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