The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law in late March.
At its meeting July 14, the Orange County Board of Supervisors adopted a local CARES Act spending plan that will provide $3.2 million county wide in economic assistance to local government, businesses, individuals, families and community agencies and nonprofit organizations suffering amid the COVID-19 public health care crisis.
Among the $3.2 million allocated in countywide funding, the Town of Orange will receive $440,506 and the Town of Gordonsville will receive $140,030 to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
In a virtual presentation to the board, Orange County Assistant County Administrator, Finance, Glenda Bradley said funds had been broken down into four categories: county direct response, individual and family assistance, business and community partner support and broadband access emergency projects.
Bradley reported all funds must be spent by Dec. 30, 2020, and must be directly related to COVID-19 response. Funds cannot be used to offset declining county revenues. After adopting the spending plan, the board also agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the towns and community nonprofits about how county-distributed funds must be spent.
“We could have to pay it back if we don’t spend it in accordance with how it’s supposed to be spent,” Bradley said.
Orange County Director of Management Services Stephanie Straub added, “The memorandums are modeled on guidelines the state put out to transfer liability to the Town of Orange, Town of Gordonsville or any third party CARES Act recipients,” if the money is not spent according to approved guidelines.
The county direct response category ($1,527,202) comprised the largest allocation, and covered costs associated with quarantine expenses, additional cleaning supplies and services, office modifications to comply with social distancing and other public safety measures, software supporting telework capabilities and electronic meetings and other equipment or supplies directly related to the county’s coronavirus response.
Nearly a third of those funds ($466,995) are allocated to pay for materials and supplies, including office, vehicle, medical, housekeeping, police and educational supplies, personal protective equipment, computer hardware and software.
Another $321,078 was earmarked for building access controls, cybersecurity, EMS equipment, sanitizing equipment, disinfecting lights for ambulances and biohazard seating for sheriff’s office vehicles.
Nearly $300,000 was spent on temporary custodial positions, temporary emergency services positions, reassignment of personnel and overtime related to quarantine and custodial requirements.
A little more than $200,000 was allocated for employee COVID-19 testing, contracted cleaning services, office modifications and cybersecurity improvements.
Additional funds from the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Virginia Department of Elections, Health and Human Service and the Federal Aviation Administration totaled more than $123,275. Those funds helped offset costs related to mailings, equipment and personnel related to elections; for laptops and webcams for the juvenile justice program; reimbursement for lost ambulance revenue and airport personnel expenses.
Another $11,390 was set aside to establish a new county childcare site at Lightfoot Elementary School as more parents face childcare challenges.
Funds set aside for individual and family assistance total $100,000 and have been reserved for utility and rental assistance, Bradley reported. The allocation will be managed by Orange County Social Services which may partner with other assistance organizations to create eligibility criteria and process and approve applications.
The county agreed to set aside $200,000 to support for-profit businesses and another $100,000 for non-profit businesses impacted by the pandemic. Business grants would be administered by the Community Investment Collaborative in Charlottesville, which is managing similar programs for Culpeper and Fluvanna counties, Bradley told the board.
Of the nearly $1.3 million set aside for “community partners,” $130,000 will be distributed to local volunteer fire companies. Germanna Community College will get $50,000, Orange County 4-H will receive $11,280, with $5,000 apiece set aside for the Orange County Free Clinic and the Piedmont Regional Dental Clinic. Local food banks and pantries will receive $10,000, with an equal amount earmarked for housing and homelessness. A $40,000 contingency has been reserved for other community agencies and organizations reeling from the public health crisis.
The final primary block of funding is $500,000 for broadband emergency access projects—particularly in light of the virtual learning platform integral to Orange County Public Schools’ 2020-21 school year.
“Guidance for use of the relief funds continues to be updated and refined frequently,” Bradley reported to the board.
In a report to the Gordonsville Town Council at its meeting last Monday, town manager Debbie Kendall said, “To date, $11,185 has been expensed or encumbered for the town’s CARES Act-related materials or services.”
She said funding to the town would be provided in a lump sum.
The Orange Town Council reestablished the town’s industrial development authority in order to facilitate distribution of CARES Act funding and the IDA was scheduled to meet Tuesday, July 28.