County still working on how to spend CARES Act millions

  • A slide used by Government Servics Group in an update about Nassau County’s CARES Act program. This is the company’s seventh week onsite developing a plan to be submitted to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. NASSAU COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
    A slide used by Government Servics Group in an update about Nassau County’s CARES Act program. This is the company’s seventh week onsite developing a plan to be submitted to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. NASSAU COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday.

Emergency Management Director Greg Foster reported that the COVID-19 testing site in the Target parking lot on State Road 200/A1A would close down as of 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. The testing site is to be deployed to another still-unnamed location.

Foster also said a tropical cyclone forming in the Atlantic Ocean “does not look like it’s going to be a threat to the East Coast and the state of Florida” at this time.

County Manager and Attorney Mike Mullin introduced an agenda expansion item to “authorize and approve the Chairman to sign a budget of transfer for the CARES allocation in the amount of  $157,500.” This was unanimously approved and later put into context by Office of Management and Budget Director Megan Diehl.

David Jahosky, the managing director for Government Services Group, which holds a contract with the county to work on its CARES Act program, gave the commissioners an update about the program. Jahosky noted this was the company’s seventh week onsite developing a plan to be submitted to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Jahosky reminded the board of the four tiers of funding. Tier 1 is based upon the $3.8 million  (25%) of the funds already received from the Florida Division of Emergency management and Tier 2 is based upon $3.9 million worth of expenses.

Jahosky stated, “They will not be asking for the full $3.9 million at this point, mainly for cash flow reasons and when we expect the timing of those expenses to be made. We expect some of those expenses to actually to roll into October, which crosses fiscal year, so we thought it would be best to wait.”

Regarding Tier 3 (Constitutionals, School District, Municipalities, $3.1 million) and Tier 4 items (Unmet Needs, $4.5 million), Jahosky said, “We don’t know if there is going to be funding available to cover those expenditures.” A second agreement between the county and FDEM should be issued later this week and they will have more clarity then.

Jahosky then spoke about the provisional expenditures planned by each “agency”: BOCC, $11,735,210; Constitutional Officers, $1,149,708; Health Department, $203,147; Municipalities, $854,518; and School District, $1,521,797. Those amounts total $15,464,380 of Provisional Approval of the Plan. Jahosky said he would deliver the sub-recipient agreements that need to be in place for the “agencies” and for nonprofits such as Barnabas Center and the Nassau County Council on Aging.

A chart was presented that broke down the allocated dollars by program as follows: Unmet Needs, $2,466,000; Social Services and Resident Needs, $623,000; Food Stability, $680,000; COVID-19, Expenditure Recovery $269,000; Public Safety and Public Health Needs-Re-Emergence Preparedness, $737,000, Personal Protective Equipment, $774,000, Non-Congregant Sheltering, $120,000; Facilities Operation Improvements, $3,634,000, COVID-19 Expenditure Recoverym $1,659,000; Economic Support and Recovery–Small Business Assistance, $2,220,000; and Safe at Work, $897,000.

The closing date for applications for the money allocated to Small Business Recovery is Aug. 17. As of Wednesday, 41 applications had been received for those funds and the mortgage and rental assistance money. Payments for Small Business Recovery could go out in late-August and into September.

Jahosky asked the BOCC to approve the amended plan and it received unanimous approval.

Chairman Danny Leeper asked what the date was for the beginning of reimbursements for eligible expenses. Jahovsky said it was March 1 as long as the items were not in the
 budget. There will be a follow up report next week to provide a summary and next steps in the process.

Office of Management & Budget Director Megan Diehl presented the approach she recommends to fund the second tier of $2.3 million. First, transfer $700,000 from Contingency Reserves, where there is a balance of $1.8 million with two months left in the fiscal year. Second, transfer $1.6 million from the Capital Reserve and General Fund, where there is currently a balance of $5.3 million allocated for the next phase of the William Burgess project. These transfers would go into the Reserve created for COVID-19.

Diehl stated she would prepare her recommendation for a BOCC vote next week. She then discussed the transfer from the COVID-19 ($157,500 previously discussed) reserve to fund projects or items that are on the proposed plan so that it would not need BOCC approval. The board approved the funding of items in Tier 1 and 2 to escalate the process of moving the reimbursement faster.

The BOCC unanimously approved Amendment 2 to Contract No. 2875, extending the term of the county’s agreement with Government Services Group an additional two weeks through Aug. 30.

There was a technical glitch that prevented Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, the head of the county’s health department, from reporting via telephone, so her report on the official coronavirus pandemic data from the Florida Department of Health was read by Foster.

The total cases in the county as of Aug. 11 were 1,253 – 1,175 residents and 78 non-residents. The number of people released from isolation was 740 with 435 cases still active. The health department is promoting the testing of school age children for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes a disease called COVID-19.

The following four items were unanimously approved:

• An amendment to an agreement with the Department of Juvenile Justice for an allocation of $106,700 for the Sheriff Work Ethics and Training (SWEAT) Program and an amendment to an agreement with Bright Minds Youth Development, Inc. to administer the program from July 1, 2020 through June 20, 2021.

• An amendment to an agreement for Utility Support Services with the Florida Governmental Utility Authority.

• Extending the State of Emergency in Nassau County, Florida due to COVID-19 through Aug. 19.

• Discuss and approve a settlement agreement between Florida DEP and Nassau Amelia Utilities.

Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, the commissioners expressed their gratitude to Foster for hosting the meeting at Emergency Management because the BOCC chambers were in use by the Supervisor of Elections Office. Leeper said he received many phone messages and emails with requests to limit closures on S.R. 200/A1A particularly during peak times relating to the opening of the schools. He also expressed the need to look into a relief from flooding for the residents on Marian Drive.