CARES Funds Headed To Fire Companies

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners agreed to use the county’s remaining CARES funding to support local fire companies.

On Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to set aside the $30,063 in remaining CARES Act funding for local fire companies. Commissioner Chip Bertino, however, pointed out that fire companies had to submit whatever paperwork was required to receive funding.

“It’s incumbent upon the fire companies to forward information to us for evaluation and assessment as to whether or not it can be approved,” Bertino said. “I just want to make sure that gets out there because it’s not on the commissioners’ office, it’s a two-way street.”

Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins provided the commissioners with a summary of how the county had spent its federal coronavirus relief funding. Funding was used to support libraries, municipalities, economic development, restaurants, the health department and the school system, among other things.

“The entire $4,560,879 will be spent by the federal deadline of December 30, 2020,” he said.

Bertino asked about how much funding had been used to give grants to local restaurants. Tom Perlozzo, the county’s director of recreation and parks, tourism and economic development, said the county had disbursed $900,000 in grants to local restaurants in the past two weeks and hoped to give out more with the roughly $500,000 left for restaurants.

“We hope that we will exhaust those funds,” Perlozzo said.

Bertino also asked what the county would be able to do for volunteer fire companies. Higgins said some money had already been put toward equipment for the fire companies but said he was also researching payroll figures to determine whether money could be granted toward that expense.

Bertino stressed the importance of fire companies submitting the necessary documentation to Higgins’ office to justify any payroll reimbursements.

Weston Young, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer, said he had reached out to fire companies to try to set up a meeting with the commissioners to discuss their needs.

“As I said before, we need to err on the side of giving them the money as opposed to err on the side of not giving them the money when some of these discussions are had about what their needs are,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.

Commissioner Jim Bunting suggested putting the last of the CARES Act funding “on hold” for the fire companies and made a motion to use the remaining $30,063 for the county’s fire companies. The motion passed unanimously.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.