Placer County officials say they’re going to use millions of dollars from the federal CARES Act funding they’ve received to prop up small businesses and nonprofit organizations hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the Placer County Board of Supervisors directed the County Executive Office to create a pool of $8 million for a grant program that would reimburse the business community and local nonprofits for eligible COVID-19 expenses.
"We know our business community, nonprofits and their employees have really suffered because of the shutdown and many are having a tough time trying to come back," said Board Chair Bonnie Gore. "We believe this infusion of grant funding will help those hardest hit to recover and go on to prosper."
The plan is to use third party administrators who know the businesses and nonprofits well enough to understand where the money is most needed. The program, which would be based on need, would provide awards of up to $10,000 to cover eligible expenses, which have already been identified by U.S. Treasury guidance.
"I want to make sure these funds are distributed to businesses and nonprofits who demonstrate the greatest need such as those who were forced to remain closed the longest or did not receive prior assistance," said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. "The need is likely greater than the funding so it's imperative we distribute these funds strategically."
U.S. Treasury Department guidance allows coronavirus relief funds to be used for "necessary expenditures" such as direct costs to address medical and public health needs and secondary costs such as providing economic support to those businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The following are some of the eligible CARES Act expenditures:
- Employee time for COVID-19 response
- Needs for homeless care, telemedicine, medical supplies and materials
- Laptops and phones to facilitate telework and remote delivery of county services
- Additional employee sick leave allowed under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Voter Service Center costs and other preparations for all-mail elections, per state order
- Enhancements for online permitting
- Building remodeling to facilitate video arraignment capabilities
- Emergency Operations Center improvements
- CARES Act community grant funding administration
- Increased costs for office reconfigurations and disinfection services for county facilities
- Network security enhancements
Placer County is reportedly putting 20-percent of its CARES Act dollars into the business and nonprofit sectors, and that's is said to be the largest percent any county in California is spending on those sectors.