Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that an additional $150 million in federal funds provided for COVID-19 relief to counties has been disbursed this week. These funds are from the state-administered Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that was passed by Congress.
The funds represent the second half of $300 million appropriated by statute to county governments. Counties are required to offer a minimum of 25 percent of their total allocation of the funds to municipalities.
“During this pandemic people across North Carolina rely on their local governments for essential health and safety help close to home. Local governments need stability and funding to cover the costs of COVID-19 response, and we are working quickly to get these resources where they are needed,” Cooper said.
Iredell County received $3,528,481 in the second round of COVID-19 relief funding, increasing its total allocation to $6,736,524.
Though the federal government did not require that the state share any of the $3.56 billion in the CRF to North Carolina local governments, Cooper’s COVID-19 budget proposal recommended $300 million be allocated to counties and municipalities. HB 1023/S.L. 2020-80, Section 3.3(2), appropriated the additional $150 million to county governments.
Counties and municipalities have been given instructions about how the funds may be used.
“The North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office appreciates everything local government leaders are doing to submit county plans and utilize these funds to respond to the COVID-19 crisis with testing, personal protection equipment, medical supplies, and much more,” said Stephanie McGarrah, Director of NC PRO.
The CRF funds may be used for:
♦ Medical needs including the COVID-19 related expenses of public hospitals and clinics, including testing;
♦ Public health needs, such as personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, as well as the cost of cleaning public areas and facilities such as nursing homes;
♦ Payroll expenses for public safety or health-care employees dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 emergency; and
♦ Expenses to protect public health, including teleworking, distance learning, food delivery, paid leave for public employees, expenses for maintaining prisons, and protecting the homeless population.
Under state law, 97 counties received a base amount of $250,000, with more distributed by population.
Three large counties—Guilford, Mecklenburg, and Wake—received funds directly from the federal government. This quick disbursement of funds was coordinated by the state Office of State Budget and Management and the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office (NC PRO).
NC PRO coordinates and oversees funds made available through federal and state COVID-19 recovery legislation, including the CRF. The office offers technical assistance for entities that receive funds and ensures proper reporting and accounting. The office will also work on the state’s economic recovery and strategic plan as North Carolina rebuilds from this pandemic.