County ramps up plan to spend CARES Act money

  • The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners met Monday, July 6, with commissioners and staff, as well as a presenter, all wearing face coverings. The meeting followed an executive order issued July 2 that detailed the “mandatory wearing of face coverings.” GARY D. MORGAN/FOR THE NEWS-LEADER
    The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners met Monday, July 6, with commissioners and staff, as well as a presenter, all wearing face coverings. The meeting followed an executive order issued July 2 that detailed the “mandatory wearing of face coverings.” GARY D. MORGAN/FOR THE NEWS-LEADER

In March of 2020, Congress approved the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security,” or  “CARES,” Act to “provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.” The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners convened a special meeting Monday to hear a presentation by Government Services Group on how GSG will help the county plan and manage the $3.8 million distribution it has received so far from the state as part of the legislation. And it could get much more.

BOCC Chairman Danny Leeper called on County Manager and Attorney Mike Mullin to introduce David Jahosky, the managing director of GSG.

“We are fortunate to have the Government Services Group here with us today,” Mullin said. “Nassau County received 3.8 million dollars from the state of Florida on July 1st.” This was the first increment under the allocation of the CARES Act for Nassau County.

Jahosky explained that Nassau County has received $3,866,095, representing 25% of the eligible monies made available to the county. This money is for expenditures made up until the end of March 2020 that were approved as part of the county’s budget. This money is intended to assist cash flow, and Nassau County can immediately submit eligible expenses to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

In addition, funds are available for applicants and subrecipients upon completion of a program application or plan and signed agreement with the county.

The county is eligible for an additional $11,598,285, the remaining 75%, on a reimbursement basis. For that money, “the county or subrecipient has to expend eligible funds and then submit for reimbursement. BOCC may consider options to front county expenditures. However, BOCC should understand the risks of fronting applicant or subrecipient expenditures,” it was explained.

All $15,464,380 in CARES Act funds must be spent by the end of the year. If any funds are not expended, the unexpended funds must be returned to the federal government.

Jahosky stated he would be walking through the preliminary framework in the draft plan as it relates to what “we are referring to as a team calling it ‘Nassau County Cares,’ which is the implementation for the CARES Act funding which the County received last week.”

Through a series of comprehensive slides, Jahosky explained that the $3.8 million is an initial disbursement from the FDEM, which has the responsibility to oversee the grant funding and the specifications of what the county needs to do as part of the program. The BOCC has the responsibility to oversee its sub-grantees as part of the program.

Eligible expenditure categories include Medical-Emergency Response Expenditures; Public Health-Communication & Enforcement, Protective Equipment, Sanitation and Food Stability; Public Safety and Public Health Services payroll expenses for those whose job duties have changed due to COVID-19; and Economic Support-Small Business Support Programs and Mortgage, rent utility programs.

As an example of the current use of the initial allocation, Jahosky mentioned the county working with the Council on Aging to get meals to seniors who need them. This comes under the Public Health representative expenditure that is a food stability service that is eligible for reimbursement under Economic Support. He also gave as an example a request from the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce to support small businesses.

Jahosky then provided a slide entitled “Allocation to Nassau County” and subtitled “Preliminary Service Delivery Framework” that further demonstrated “that services are interrelated and necessary for a successful recovery.”

The five service delivery areas, the first three of which are available to all residents of Nassau County, are:

• Public Safety and Health: COVID-19-expenditure recovery; facilities/operations improvements; purchase of equipment/PPE; facilities updates/rehab; non-congregant sheltering; re-emergence preparedness.

• Economic Support & Recovery: Small business recovery assistance; safe at work.

• Social Services & Resident Needs: Non-profit support; food stability; social service agency assistance; housing assistance.

• Municipalities & Consti-tutional Offices: County health department; sheriff; property appraiser; supervisor of elections; tax Collector; school district; towns/city.

• Planning for Unmet Needs: Medical or health needs; payroll; facilitate compliance; public safety; economic recovery.

A note states, “Maintains flexibility to be responsive should County residents need change.”

Jahosky also presented the status of comparable counties and briefly discussed the allocations to St. Johns, Flagler, Walton, Citrus, and Duval counties.

Leeper said he previously spoke to the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce regarding providing money for economic recovery to local businesses. He stated that the BOCC had agreed to allocate $1.2 million to local businesses prior to finding out that there would be an additional $11.5 million. Leeper stated that he was hopeful the board could allocate the $2.2 million that the Chamber had requested for local businesses. Mullin said it could be contained in a motion.

Jahosky then presented a “workstream planning model” for the county that included planning, defining program requirements, and legal support.

A “Key Takeaways” slide included: having a plan; designating a person to coordinate the accumulation of all records; establishing separate accounts, funds or cost centers to accumulate the expenditures; reconciling final project costs to the accounting system to insure accuracy; confirming recorded expenditures are referenced to supporting source documents; researching insurance coverage and ensure no duplication of benefits occurs; and ensuring expenditures included in the reimbursement requests are eligible, accurate within the scope of work, within the period of performance, reasonable and necessary.

Finally, there was a timeline slide presented.

Leeper commended Jahosky on his presentation and a motion was made to authorize that a contract with GSG be negotiated by Mullin and brought back to the BOCC. It was unanimously approved. A motion was made to increase the allocation for local businesses, and that too was unanimously approved.

After a brief break, the BOCC reconvened for its 6 p.m. regular meeting.

There were 11 agenda items that were approved unanimously. They were: A Software Services Agreement with PlanSource Benefits Administration Inc.; Finance Package 2020-16 and associated Resolutions; Finance Package 2020-17 and associated Resolutions; Board minutes from regular session and special sessions with dates in May; Release final retainage amount to Florida Infrastructure Inc.; the signing and Chairman authorization for Contract No 2868 with the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service for improvements in American Beach (there was some testimony in favor of this item); Consideration CPA19-008 Ordinance amending the 2030 Nassau County Comprehensive Plan amending the Public Facilities, Conservation, Regional Coordination and Capital Improvements …; Consider LDC20-003 an ordinance amending Article 1. Section 1.02of the Land Development Code …; Second Public hearing for consideration of LDC20-002 amending Article 20 of the Land Development Code …; Consider an Ordinance of the BOCC amending Chapter 8 3/4 of the Nassau County Code of Ordinances …; agreement between the BOCC, the Sheriff’s Office and Harbor Concourse Homeowners Association ….

Two items on the agenda received continuances: Consider CPA19-009, a FLUM amendment, and the consideration of PUD19-008.

There was a discussion of the 5 p.m. special meeting regarding the GSG contract and the $2.2 million to be allocated under the CARES Act for the local businesses. This motion was passed unanimously.

A discussion was held regarding a groundbreaking for the construction of Crawford Road. A motion was made and passed unanimously to approve moving ahead with this item.

Finally, tributes were paid to two longtime public servants who had recently passed away – former sheriff Ray Geiger and Randy Guest, a former firefighter and paramedic. Both served the community for many years.

In a message sent later in response to the small business money, Leeper wrote: “We had been looking for funding to assist our small businesses and have been working with the Chamber President about various ways to help. ... Once we confirmed our allocation was now more than what we expected, I wanted to help more businesses that have been impacted and asked to meet the monetary request our Chamber had submitted based on their analysis.”