NEWBERRY ‒ The City of Newberry is aiming to apply for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through Alachua County even though there may be a hitch with the City’s eligibility.

At the Aug. 24 city commission meeting Director of Finance and Administration Dallas Lee said that Alachua County’s share of funding from the CARES Act is $46,945,928. The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) developed a distribution plan that allocates $21.1 million for Individual Assistance Grants (up to $2,500), $7.5 million for Small Business Relief Grants (up to $10,000), $7.5 million for Medium Business Relief Grants (up to $15,000) and $8.3 million for Government Assistance Grants.

Lee said that the BoCC distributions to local governments would be based on a variety of factors such as population, needs, existing programs and special circumstances. The City of Newberry has been allocated up to $103,400 in CARES funding according to Lee.

He explained that the City may only utilize these grant funds for expenses incurred as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency from the period of March 1 – Dec. 30, 2020, and reviewed the list of the types of expenses allowed to be reimbursed.

“To date,” said Lee, “the City has incurred approximately $20,000 in COVID-related expenses that would be eligible for CARES Act funding.” However, he also pointed out that funds can be shifted between categories with approval of the County Manager. Additional services or programs could be offered at the direction of the commission with funding provided through the agreement.

Examples of the types of additional services/program that could be approved might include cleaning of public parks or buildings or distribution of additional food assistance.

A possible sticking point with County CARES funding to the City of Newberry is that the agreement requires compliance with all Alachua County Emergency Orders currently issued or those issued in the future.

Lee reminded Commissioners that on May 21 the Commission authorized Mayor Jordan Marlowe to sign a resolution adopting the governor’s emergency orders within the City and declining to enforce the County’s emergency orders.

Lee requested direction on how the City should proceed. Lee explained that individuals and businesses which are in compliance with the County’s orders will be eligible for CARES assistance grants regardless of the City Commission’s situation.

Commissioners unanimously decided that the City should apply for their share of reimbursement funds up to $20,000, but that the application should include an asterisk that the City of Newberry will continue to abide by the governor’s emergency order and directives.

Marlowe pointed to the three other categories of funding that the BoCC has already determined would be reimbursed prior to the individual cities. He also said he believed the BoCC may be softening their stance on the requirement that every city must abide by their directives.

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