County Scores $616K In Grant Funds

SALISBURY – More than $600,000 in federal grant awards is expected to help the county fund two major projects.

On Tuesday, Finance Director Pam Oland came before the Wicomico County Council seeking approval to accept $116,000 from the Congressionally Directed Spending Grants to purchase body-worn cameras for the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office.

“Congressionally Directed Spending is also referred to as earmarks, and last year was the first in several years the Senate was able to do that,” she said. “We submitted an application for several projects … This was one of them.”

In the spring of 2021, the county applied for several Congressionally Directed Spending Grants to be funded in the fiscal year 2022 budget. In a memo to the council, Acting County Executive reported that two of Wicomico’s projects were accepted.

“When the federal government passed their funding legislation on March 10, 2022 these projects were approved,” he wrote. “We were awarded $116,000 to purchase body worn cameras for the Wicomico Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, we were awarded $500,000 to help with funding the runway extension at the Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport.”

While the sheriff’s department has already deployed body-worn cameras, officials noted the grant funding will allow the agency to expand the program to meet state mandates.

“We started our camera program in 2017, before it was mandated,” Capt. Tim Robinson told the council this week. “It’s been a great asset to us at the sheriff’s department.”

Officials noted the county also received $500,000 to extend a runway and taxiway at the Salisbury airport. The project is expected to meet the needs of the local air carrier, secure air service and airline jobs, and support future demand and growth.

While the county applied for funding in 2021, Oland told the council this week the county was notified of the two grant awards after the federal budget was passed in March.

“Until the federal government passed their budget, which was in March, these would not be funded,” she explained. “But these have now been passed.”

Oland, however, noted that the county was now required to provide an additional application to access those funds. In the meantime, she said she was seeking the council’s approval to accept the $616,000 in grants.

“We have actually received documents and are filling them out,” she said.

With no further discussion, the council voted 6-0, with Councilman Josh Hastings absent, to accept the two awards from the Congressionally Directed Spending Grants in an amount totaling $616,000.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.