In the last six months, nearly $2 million in funding has been awarded to local government agencies in Dawson County through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dawson County News spoke with local leaders last week about what the funding will go towards as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The Dawson County government was allocated a total of $1,196,773 in CARES Act funding, according to the county’s chief financial officer Vickie Neikirk. So far, the county has received $359,031 of the total allocation and is putting the funds towards first responder salaries and benefits.
“They’re sending the money in two phases, and there’s a quick turnaround so we had to have all the claims of what we’re using it for in by Sept. 1,” Neikirk said. “What the state agency recommended was that we use it towards first responder salary and benefit costs, so that’s what we spent it on.”
The CARES Act funding will essentially reimburse the county for the expenses of those salaries and benefits from when the CARES Act took effect up until the allocated amount of money is used up.
“We are hoping there will be additional funding made available to the county after all the claims are processed,” Neikirk said, “but no official word has come from the Governor’s office yet.”
The Dawsonville city government was awarded $169,000 for the first phase of CARES Act funding, according to the city’s finance administrator Hayden Wiggins. Out of this amount, the city has received $59,000 so far.
“So far we’ve received about $59,000 plus whatever we submit for reimbursement up until the $169,000 total,” Wiggins said. “And we’ve bought a whole slew of different things; that money is pretty much all going to supplies and some personnel.”
The biggest items the city has put the CARES Act funding towards are fogging machines for city hall and for the playground at Main Street Park, automatic hand sanitizer stations and technology and laptops to help city employees telework more effectively. The city has also used the money to purchase hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves.
“That’s as far as we are right now with what we’ve purchased throughout the whole COVID-19 pandemic, so from March to now with all the stuff we’ve bought throughout those five months,” Wiggins said.
Dawson County School System
The Dawson County School System received $418,000 worth of CARES Act funding, according to the BOE’s chief financial officer Jamie Ulrich. The money will be used for utility bills for all the schools in the school system.
“It’ll be for utilities for all the schools until we eat up the money, so from July 1 until that money is gone,” Ulrich said.
All CARES Act funding must be used for specified areas outlined by the act itself, and utilities for the schools in the Dawson County School System falls under the area classified as “Continuation of Core Service (Utilities)”, according to Ulrich.