Nassau County officials say disbursement of CARES Act funding has gone well thus far during an Oct. 21 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.
Nassau County Manager Taco Pope said the county has made great progress during the past six months, calling it a “journey and a challenge.”
“Over the last 30 days additional guidance came out,” he said. “We worked with our team from the (Government Services Group). We created a strategy that we think accomplishes all of our initial goals, which was to aggressively but prudently pursue all $15 million, to try to capture that and bring that into the county. We have a strategy to get that done.”
Pope said the commissioners’ decision to sign an amended contract with the Florida Department of Emergency Management led to the county receiving an “additional $3 million in the bank.”
Government Services Group Managing Director David Jahosky said CARES Act funding has already been distributed to local businesses. He said more than $1 million has been distributed to local businesses, and the group is working with nonprofits to potentially receive funding, too.
Jahosky said the “game plan” moving forward is to finalize disbursement to the remaining small businesses and nonprofits, finalize disbursement of SHIP CARES Act applicants, select the best funding options for Nassau CARES and “wrap up the program.”
Jahosky also said the county can now take advantage of recent U.S. Treasury Department guidance that allows the county to take “administrative convenience.” This guidance allows the county to count public safety dollars already spent in the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, and apply it to the county plan.
In other business:
• Florida Department of Health-Nassau County Director Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel provided an update on COVID-19 cases in the county.
As of Oct. 19, there had been 2,351 COVID-19 cases in Nassau with 1,967 releases and 217 active cases in isolation.
Ngo-Seidel encouraged residents to obtain a flu shot before Halloween and to safely plan fall celebrations.
• Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept $43,177 for the Victims of Crime Act Grant.
• Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept a second disbursement of Coronavirus Relief Funds from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. The money is to be used for rent and mortgage assistance.
• Commissioners also agreed to amend the county’s mask order to coincide with dates included in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ emergency order.
• Commissioners briefly adjourned the commission meeting and convened as the South Amelia Island Shore Stabilization Municipal Service Benefit Unit Governing Board.
Two items were approved without discussion: an agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for a Hurricane Irma recovery project and a beach renourishment agreement with the environmental agency.
In the Hurricane Irma recovery project, the state has agreed to pay up to $319,667 of cost-sharing not covered by federal dollars.
The shore stabilization agreement provides funding for “monitoring expenses” and $7,586,799 for proposed construction cost for a 2021 beach renourishment project.
• Pope told commissioners the county is working with the local health department and emergency management personnel to ascertain which facilities could open since COVID-19 numbers had fallen in recent weeks.
“Our office has been getting a number of calls related to opening some additional facilities and services to the public that we had closed at the beginning of the pandemic, specifically some of the rooms in the libraries and the community facilities,” Pope said. “At the end of this week or early next week we are going to release a schedule of openings and some phone numbers and contact information.”
Pope said the target date for a complete reopening is Nov. 9.