Elmore County and its municipalities could receive more than $2.4 million in funding thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
It’s the same CARES Act authorizing the $1,200 stimulus checks many residents received in April. Instead of a check written to the county and city governments like the stimulus checks, strings are attached. The governments can seek reimbursements up to an allotted amount for COVID-19 related expenses such as sanitation products and services, protective gear including personal protective equipment (PPE) and manpower related to the response of the pandemic.
Wetumpka has been allotted up and to $420,163.28 in reimbursements.
“We have purchased things like masks and other PPE we think is justified,” Wetumpka city clerk Tiffany Robinson said. “We have also purchased things to help with sanitation at the polls to help keep voters and poll workers safe.”
According to the State of Alabama Department of Finance, Wetumpka has already received $5,632.71 in reimbursements for cleaning and sanitation; medical, PPE and workplace safety preparations.
Elmore County knows it has expenses eligible for reimbursement. Chief engineer and operations officer Richie Beyer said things like PPE and expenses related to giving time off for quarantine should be eligible but the county is seeking guidance on other possible expenses.
“We house a number of inmates for (Alabama Department of Corrections),” Beyer said. “They have 30 days to take them but with the stay-at-home orders, we housed a number of inmates longer than 30 days. We are still trying to determine if expenses in housing inmates longer is eligible.”
While many county and city governments are finding it difficult to spend the entire allotments, officials with Alexander City feel they have a decent chance at funding a renovation to create a third fire station. Alexander City has been allotted up to $700,851.48 and city leaders hope it can justify renovating a building adjacent to Thomas C. Russell Field into a fire station.
“We would like to have another fire station to spread the firefighters out due to COVID-19,” Mayor Tommy Spraggins said.
Alexander City currently has two fire stations. Station 1 in downtown and Station 2 next to the Adams Water Treatment Facility near the River Bridge on U.S. Highway 280. Firefighters work 24-hour shifts where they eat and sleep in bunks while working. The Alexander City Fire Department operates ambulances and has transported many COVID-19 positive patients from homes to Russell Medical and to Birmingham and Montgomery for treatment. Adding a third station would help create social distancing amongst the firefighters and possibly prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have submitted a request to the (Federal Aviation Association) for a Fire Station 3 at the airport,” Spraggins said.
Reimbursement can be sought for expenditures incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 not already accounted for in the current budget.
Categories for reimbursement fall into one of seven categories.
• PPE includes hand sanitizer, face masks, gloves, protective clothing and face shields
• Cleaning and sanitation includes cleaning products, disinfectants and sanitation services
• Medical includes thermometers, swabs, testing kits and lab tests
• Telework expenses include laptops, phones, software, computer equipment and supplies, VPN and WiFi
• Workplace safety preparations include plexiglass dividers and building or workstation modifications
• Training includes specialized instruction related to COVID-19
• Payroll includes public safety, public health, healthcare, human services and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency
The funding comes from the $1.8 billion awarded to Alabama under the CARES ACT. Counties and municipalities not receiving funds directly from the U.S. Government are splitting $250 million with $125 million to counties and $125 million to municipalities. The Alabama County Commission Association and the Alabama League of Municipalities assisted in developing formulas to spread the funding allotment.
Other municipalities in Elmore County received allotments for reimbursements according to documents from the Alabama Department of Finance.
Coosda received $86,273.68; Deatsville received $83,394.10; Eclectic received $72,819.90; Elmore received $88,633.99; Millbrook received $775,390.41; and Tallassee received $237,522.41.