By Zach Armstrong
PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- A report to the Prince George Board of Supervisors given by Finance Director Betsy Drewry on Jan. 12 outlined CARES Act spending authorized by the board in 2020, which had totaled $6,678,284 with two invoices of $14,018 waiting to be added.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is an economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March of last year totaling $2.2 trillion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill included $300 billion in one-time cash payments to individuals, $260 billion in increased unemployment benefits, the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program giving forgivable loans to small businesses with $669 billion in funding, $500 billion in loans for corporations and $339.8 billion to state and local governments. The deadline for localities to spend the funds was Dec. 31.
The largest expenditure from the county was $2.1 million in small business grants given to 84 businesses that received grants of up to $50,000 meant to provide payroll and other expenses.
The second highest recipient of CARES funding was Prince George Public Schools, who received $2.1 million for various technologies that were purchased to assist with virtual learning along with other expenses.
Purchases meant to protect county employees and the general public such as protective equipment, desk protectors and certain vehicles totaled $1.27 million. A total of $650,909 was distributed by the Department of Social Services to 259 qualifying families and non-profits for rent, mortgages, food and personal care, clothing, energy assistance, garbage collection, and childcare.
Hazard pay for first responders as well as compensation for hiring additional part-time county employees to clean buildings totaling $470,403. Deadlines for payments of taxes and utilities were extended by the Board last year. Food and PPE was delivered to those in need by public safety and social service employees.
According to Utilities Director Frank Haltom, people facing water and sewer delinquencies have been served and funding for those services is still available although a utility relief program is still pending.
A release by County Administrator Percy Ashcraft stated that “balance was essential in spreading CARES act funding throughout the community,” going on to say “Prince George County Government and its leadership from the Board of Supervisors stand ready to distribute to its citizens that need it most should another round of funding emerge.”