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Commissioners allot COVID-19 funds for municipalities, vote to hire temporary accountant

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County commissioners on Monday set amounts of Coronavirus relief funds to be distributed among Rowan’s 10 municipalities and approved hiring a new, temporary position to help staff with managing money from the state.

County Manager Aaron Church provided commissioners with an update on its share of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund during the meeting. The initial Rowan County appropriation from the state was $2.56 million, but an additional $2.76 million has been awarded, amounting to a total of $5.32 million. It must be allotted by Dec. 30, and the county must devise a new plan for the funds.

Additionally, Church said the new rule is that 25% of the funding must go to municipalities, which would amount in $3.99 million for the county’s use and $1.33 million distributed among the 10 municipalities. While municipalities would be responsible for their expenditures, they would have to report them to the county. Expenditures would then be funneled to the state.

Municipalities have to submit to the county their plans for the funds no later than Sept. 1.

The funds were initially proposed to be distributed by population, but commissioners voted to set a baseline of $50,000 for each municipality, with additional funding based on each municipality’s population. The total amount of funding for each municipality, rounded to the nearest dollar, would be:

  • $499,868 for Salisbury
  • $179,323 for Kannapolis
  • $105,830 for China Grove
  • $92,387 for Spencer
  • $91,371 for Landis
  • $90,641 for Granite Quarry
  • $78,319 for Rockwell
  • $69,695 for East Spencer
  • $61,619 for Cleveland
  • $60,812 for Faith

The new position commissioners approved, which would be a COVID grants administrator or accountant, would require someone with a strong accounting background, and a preference for a certified professional accountant if they’re available for a temporary position. The job could be either part-time or full-time. It would help county staff with auditing expenditures of the Coronavirus relief Funds.

County Finance Director Leslie Heidrick said the relief funds are one of nearly 10 other grants the county is eligible for in addition to another six the county may be qualified to receive.

“All of us have been chasing funding sources,” she said, adding that county staff needs help as they’re starting to get behind on other tasks.

The temporary position would last between six to 24 months, depending on the county’s need for assistance after COVID-19 funds have been exhausted. The position would require a grade 22 salary pay range, which is between $57,696 to $92,313. Heidrick said the position would be paid from the Coronavirus relief funds, not county funds, and the salary would be set based on the candidate’s education and experience.

County commissioners on Monday also scheduled a tax incentive public hearing for an economic development project that would invest $45 million in construction and equipment and create 56 jobs over the next three years. The public hearing for “Project Sun” was set for Aug. 3. The company behind “Project Sun” is an existing employer in Rowan County.

Also at the meeting:

  • Commissioners approved a request for qualifications for broadband expansion in the county. During a budget work session among commissioners on June 1, commissioners chairman Greg Edds suggested offering wireless broadband companies a financial incentive of $50,000 to begin the process of providing broadband to certain areas of the county. The suggestion came after Edds said the state pushed back the original anticipated date the county would have received the grant to begin the process in an effort to focus on other, more rural counties. Edds also emphasized the need for rural broadband expansion particularly as Gov. Roy Cooper and educators struggle to determine how the upcoming school year will look for students.
  • Commissioners heard from Valerie Steele, director of Mid-Carolina Regional Airport and the transit system, regarding an application for grants that will provide Rowan Express with operating and preventative maintenance funds. Commissioners approved a county match of $180,000, and the total grant will amount to $300,000.
  • Commissioners approved a proposal for correcting a ramp into the courthouse on Liberty Street. The ramp was incorrectly installed during its original construction and has since been listed as non-compliant.
  • Commissioners signed a letter of support for the town of Spencer’s interest in submitting an application for the Small Cities Grant offered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. If awarded, the project would focus on rehabilitation of single-family homes in Spencer. The project would be managed by the Salisbury Community Development Corporation. The letter wouldn’t obligate the county to provide administrative oversight or financial contributions.
  • Commissioners approved a request from the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council to allow Department of Public Safety funds to be received and disbursed by the county to Rowan County Youth Services Bureau. The Juvenile Crime Prevention Council was awarded $35,000 in level two funds for fiscal year 2020-21, which began July 1, to serve Juvenile Justice-involved youth and parents/guardians in the Piedmont area.
  • County commissioners went into closed session to consider a potential lease at Mid-Carolina Regional Airport, but adjourned the meeting immediately after as no action was taken during the closed session.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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