Summit County received $2M in CARES Act funding. Here’s how the County Council is considering how to spend it.
On June 10, nearly $2 million of federal money flowed into Summit County’s coffers, the first of three expected payments stemming from the March passage of the CARES Act.
Now, the Summit County Council has to decide how to spend it.
There are some strings attached — the funds can’t be used on previously budgeted items, can’t be used to replenish lost tax revenue and can’t be used for direct aid to residents.
But it can be used to help small businesses pay their rent, and a preliminary plan calls for $400,000 of the first $2 million to be spent doing just that.
The Summit County Council is expected to vote on final appropriations at its July 1 meeting, and last week heard staff recommendations for how to spend the money.
Big-ticket items in the recommendations include around $350,000 for county-incurred costs like increased paid sick leave, personal protective equipment and sanitization supplies; $268,500 for a testing program including both antibody tests and those that show whether people currently are infected; $260,000 for an in-house contact tracing program and $100,000 for a communication campaign.
Councilors also indicated they’d like to see money for a facility to quarantine individuals who cannot return home safely after testing positive for COVID-19, like those who live with roommates, many family members or others who are immunocompromised.
Officials stressed that the final two payments, scheduled for August and October, were not a sure thing and were subject to change by Gov. Gary Herbert’s office. But Councilor Kim Carson, who has ties on Capitol Hill and has been working on another branch of CARES Act funding related to small-business loans, said the next two payments appear to be solidly guaranteed by the state.
Already, the two counties in the state with populations greater than 500,000 people have received direct payments of $175 per resident from the federal government. Carson said it wouldn’t go over well in an election year if some Utahns had their local government receive $175 from the state while others received less.
If the payments aren’t changed, Summit County stands to receive $5,938,786. The state of Utah received a total of $1.25 billion from the federal government including payments of $934.8 million directly to the state government, $203.6 million to Salt Lake County and $111.6 million to Utah County.
For each resident of a municipality, half of the payment would go to the city government while the other half would go to the county. Each Parkite, then, earns $87.50 for Summit County and $87.50 for Park City.
The Summit County Health Department has received $1,187,000 in other federal grants related to COVID-19, according to the staff report.
Ideas for future payments include IT improvements for internet connectivity and teleworking; a second emergency operations center positioned on the East Side of the county; and the signage, barricades, personal protective equipment and other materials necessary for a potential mass vaccination program.
Deputy County Manager Janna Young suggested in her staff report that the county partner with an organization that has experience in large grant programs, such as the Mountainlands Association of Governments. Young wrote that the county’s staff does not have the expertise, experience or capacity to administer a $400,000 grant program for local businesses.
Likely challenges include evaluating which businesses should receive grants and ensuring the money is spent correctly, Young wrote.
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