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CARES Act fund allocation discussed

Prince Edward County has received $1,989,387 from the federal government as the county’s share of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), which was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

Jim Wilck

A CARES Act Committee has been formed, composed of county supervisors, officials and a Farmville Town Council member, to determine how the funds will be allocated.

Prince Edward County Public Information Officer Kate Pickett said the committee will make its first recommendation to the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors at the board’s meeting Tuesday, July 14.

Farmville 701 District Supervisor Jim Wilck, who is on the committee, said the committee’s recommendation to the board will not include specifics and will be general in nature.

“We really more discussed around things than specific things, and so as far as the actual vote goes, the committee normally would make a recommendation to the board, and then the board has a final vote on how we handle it,” he said. “But in this case, I think Pattie (Cooper-Jones), who’s the (committee) chairman, suggested that we just let the entire board vote on it.”

He said he thinks there will be some final votes at the Board of Supervisors meeting July 14.

In addition to announcing the amount of CARES Act funding the county received, a memo from Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett to the board also noted the funds may be used for qualifying expenses but may only be used to cover costs that:

• are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19);

• were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of the enactment of the CARES Act); and

• were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends Dec. 30, 2020.

Wade Bartlett

Bartlett stated in the memo that at this point, federal guidance dictates that CRF funds can only be used for the direct costs associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot be used to make up for revenue shortfalls.

“I caution the board that the act is clear that the burden of ensuring all CRF funds are spent for qualifying purposes falls on the local government that initially received the funds,” he stated. “In addition, the local government receiving the funds is responsible for maintaining all necessary documentation to ensure compliance with the federal requirements.

“Thus, if a decision is made to provide funds to another entity and that entity expends the funds on non-qualifying expenses, Prince Edward County would be responsible for paying the funds back,” he added. “It is my understanding the act contains funding that will allow the federal government to hire private accounting firms who will audit each locality to determine if the funds were used appropriately.”

The committee includes three county supervisors, Cooper-Jones, J. David Emert and Wilck; two Prince Edward County Industrial Development Authority members, Brad Watson and Joyce Yates; and Farmville Town Councilman Donald L. Hunter.

Kate Pickett

“They have considered and discussed the possibility of grants for nonprofits and business for COVID-19-related expenses,” Pickett said. “They have also discussed the needs of the public schools and various other county agencies that help county residents and are in need of additional resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She noted that ensuring that the funds are used properly is of the utmost importance and has facilitated the need for careful planning and consideration of how the funds will be used.

The Board of Supervisors’ July 14 meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. Members of the public interested in listening in can call (425) 436-6394. When prompted for an access number, they should type in 867576#.