Forsyth County is ready to accept a new round of applications for federal COVID-19 stimulus funds, with a total of $21 million up for grabs.
Members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners expressed approval of the way the distribution process was handled previously, with community groups and agencies encouraged to suggest expenditures to improve the lives of county people, during a morning meeting at the county government building.
Commissioner Fleming El-Amin stated, “I believe the process was efficient.” “I am not a believer in reinventing the wheel.” I applaud the board for being sympathetic to the community’s needs.”
The American Rescue Plan, or ARPA, is providing $74.3 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funding to Forsyth County.
The county received 176 proposals totaling $222 million in requested spending during the first phase of a public application process that began last summer.
The county approved 34 applications totaling $27.6 million after a procedure in which workers reviewed the petitions and then presented them to the commissioners for approval.
The majority of the funds will be used to assist residents of the county’s lower-income neighborhoods.
In addition, the county is using over $26 million in stimulus monies for government operations, including paying public safety officers’ wages and bonuses for staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, such as nurses, emergency medical technicians, and others.
Officials from the county have not yet announced application deadlines or schedules for making spending decisions.
It’s also possible that commissioners may identify expenditure priorities, which could aid groups in deciding whether or not to apply. This was a problem with the initial round of ARPA funding because some entire areas of spending were overlooked.
One of those areas was expenditure on affordable housing: the county accepted applications but decided not to pay any because it was a municipal function.
A possibility being addressed is the county’s willingness to participate in affordable housing efforts in collaboration with Winston-Salem or other towns that choose to pursue such projects.
County authorities said on Thursday that a modification in the federal government’s spending standards has allowed the county to use up to $8.9 million of its remaining allocation for government expenses.
The county might free up an equal amount of money from the general fund by spending it on salaries, allowing community agencies to spend it on improving the quality of life. The advantage, according to county officials, is that general fund spending would not be subject to federal funding constraints.
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Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt, on the other hand, advised that the money be put into county savings “in case the bottom falls out.”
Early childhood education, expanding digital access for the poor, law enforcement and cybersecurity, mental health, and small business lending and support, according to county officials, are some of the areas that could see funding in a new round.