Hearing set for Surry CARES funding

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Surry County received $560,295 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The Board of Supervisors has set a virtual public hearing for 7 p.m. July 2, when officials will receive comments and discuss how to allocate the money. Under state law, the county must amend its budget to account for the additional funding.

Although the county has a list of previously discussed uses for the CARES Act funding, “we’re still in discussion with the towns as to providing additional insight on any (virus-related) impacts and how we may be able to use it to benefit all sectors of the community,” said County Administrator Melissa Rollins.

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Congress passed the $2 trillion economic package in March. The funds are intended to help workers, families, small businesses, specific industries and state and local governments affected by the pandemic.

In addition to supporting Surry County’s towns, staff outlined other potential uses for the funding in a memo filed with the meeting agenda:

  • Financial assistance to local businesses, negatively affected by COVID-19, a business resiliency program or a local restaurant voucher program
  • Technology investments for county staff and funding Wi-Fi hotspots for public school students
  • Personnel costs for county staff directly involved in responding to the pandemic
  • Public information initiatives, such as community outreach or digital signage

The county also identified several potential public safety, health and welfare initiatives, such as obtaining personal protective equipment for staff and visitors, purchasing equipment to disinfect offices, retrofitting office spaces to help protect employees and the public from the virus, and a possible donation to the local food bank.

Although no commitments for the money have yet been made, in Surry, “obviously public safety is a concern,” Rollins said. “As no one knows when this pandemic will end, we want to have the resources in place in terms of PPE and cleaning supplies and things of that nature to be able to protect employees and the public.”

Email comments@surrycountyva.gov to submit public comments about the CARES Act funding or any other meeting topic. The public may also call 1-877-568-4106 and use the access code 447-043-917 to dial in. Full instructions on how to access and participate in the virtual meeting are published on the county’s website.

Rollins said it’s unlikely the money will be allocated to specific priorities at the meeting. Instead, “we’re only providing some guidance for the things that have been discussed and considered.”