When the President and Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, communities across the country breathed a sigh of relief – help was coming. That relief did not last long when the reality of spending millions of dollars in unexpected funding in a short amount of time. Stafford has accepted a total of $26,676,730 in two rounds of CARES Act funding. Deciding how to spend the money and determining the most pressing needs transparently and responsibly while continuing day-to-day operations under extraordinary circumstances have been challenging. Last night, the Board of Supervisors budgeted more than $7,000,000 in the second round of $13,000,000 CARES Act funding.
“We have taken a great deal of time to be deliberate and transparent in budgeting and appropriating the CARES Act Funding on a compressed timeline,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Meg Bohmke, Falmouth District. “The Schools were our main focus this second round. So far, we have funded all but $50,000 of their CARES Act request, and that could be funded in the future.”
The Schools are anticipated to receive approximately $7.69 million, after an another allocation of $4,470,100 for operating fund projects, including $1,500,000 for air purifiers for classrooms,. Although not all students are in classrooms right now, many teachers are teaching virtually from classrooms. As well, some schools are being used for childcare for the children of Schools and County Government employees. Projects include meal distribution systems that bring meals to the classroom for on-camputs students, internet expansion, additional counselor hours, upgraded HVAC air filter, software and licensing expansion, at-home materials, hourly teacher virtual learning preparation, and hourly pay for Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. The money for the air purifiers is being appropriated now. The remaining money will be appropriated as projects are proceeding.
County Government will receive $2,070,293 with $1,258,799 of that going to Fire and Rescue for ambulances, EMS supplies, a public health consultant, showers, decontamination supplies and administrative support. Other departments will receive funding for supplies and monies necessary to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and social distancing.
A total of $415,360 will go towards community needs, with $225,000 going to Economic Development to establish a COVID curriculum for small business and to fund safety grants to businesses. Other funding will grant requests of Stafford Hospital, utilities for families struggling, the George Washington Regional Commission and Northern Virginia 4-H, all organizations which serve Stafford residents.
Approximately $5,600,000 remains to be funded and will likely go towards Public Safety time attributable to COVID-19 mitigation, which is currently being determined.