RIO GRANDE COUNTY- During the regular meeting of the Rio Grande County Board of Commissioners Wednesday, June 22, the board continued discussions pertaining to CARES Act funding that will aid in some reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses within the county and the underlying municipalities.
The CARES Act funding will be issued through requests submitted by the county which will be acting as the fiscal agent for South Fork, Del Norte, Monte Vista and a portion of Center once details pertaining to an interagency agreement have been defined.
The funding can potentially help with COVID-19 related expenses that have been already spent and some that may come at a future time in the next year. These expenses have to fall in line with federal guidelines provided through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
While working through the guidelines, the Board of County Commissioners have found them to be difficult to navigate and are working with municipalities to make sure that requests that are submitted fall under the federal guidelines in order to avoid any future expenses.
In a previous meeting, the board asked each municipality to come up with a database of COVID-19 related expenses for review before anything is submitted to the state. South Fork is one of the first municipalities to provide that list and the board is now waiting to receive the remaining lists before moving forward.
“We are trying to determine what the needs of each municipality are, and which funding source will best benefit their needs while abiding by federal guidelines. There are other funding options for businesses that we must identify that may be able to help with aid or reimbursement which in turn could free up more funding through the CARES Act. It is a difficult issue to work through, but we are doing our best to make sure the citizens and businesses get what they need,” said Rio Grande County Chairman John Noffsker.
For example, the Town of South Fork created a program at the beginning of the pandemic back in March that gave businesses an incentive to remain open and offer carry out or delivery options to customers. The incentive was a 25 percent discount to customers who came to the restaurant or business which was reimbursed by the town. This reimbursement could be submitted to the county which could potentially give that money back through CARES Act funding.
Other expenses that can be reimbursed include personal protection equipment, additional cleaning supplies or additional personnel that was hired as a direct result of COVID-19. More details pertaining to the funding and intergovernmental agreement will be reported as it becomes available. “We just want the citizens to know we are doing everything we can to make sure they get what they need and that nothing will come back in the future as a burden,” finished Noffsker.