Tallapoosa County and its municipalities could receive more than $2.4 million in funding thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
It’s the same CARES Act authorizing the $1,200 stimulus checks many residents received in April. Instead of a check written to the county and city governments like the stimulus checks, strings are attached. The governments can seek reimbursements up to an allotted amount for COVID-19 related expenses such as sanitation products and services, protective gear including personal protective equipment (PPE) and manpower related to the response of the pandemic.
Alexander City has been allotted up to $700,851.48 and city leaders hope it can justify renovating a building adjacent to Thomas C. Russell Field into a fire station.
“We would like to have another fire station to spread the firefighters out due to COVID-19,” Mayor Tommy Spraggins said.
Alexander City currently has two fire stations. Station 1 in downtown and Station 2 next to the Adams Water Treatment Facility near the River Bridge. Firefighters work 24-hour shifts where they eat and sleep in bunks while working. The Alexander City Fire Department operates ambulances and transported many COVID-19 positive patients from homes to the hospital and to Birmingham and Montgomery for treatment. Adding a third station would help create social distancing amongst the firefighters and possibly prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have submitted a request to the (Federal Aviation Association) for a Fire Station 3 at the airport,” Spraggins said.
Tallapoosa County has been allotted more than $1.3 million but county administrator Blake Beck said he doesn’t see how the county can spend its allotment but will seek reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenses.
“We have to identify, qualify and justify the expenses,” Beck said. “It’s a reimbursement system. We have compiled our to-date expenditures that we feel qualify. We are looking for others.”
Beck said some of Tallapoosa County’s coronavirus related expenses involve plexiglass at customer service desks and security checkpoints, thermometers and PPE. It also includes time for personnel.
“We have had some paid leave due to employees in quarantine,” Beck said. “When we have court, we have additional security to help maintain social distancing and to take temperatures.”
Reimbursement can be sought for expenditures incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 not already accounted for in the current budget.
Dadeville Mayor Wayne Smith said the city hasn’t yet received any reimbursements but has applied for funding.
“A couple of things we sent in, they sent back,” Smith said. “It’s all about documentation, documentation and more documentation.”
Smith said he believes the City of Dadeville can get some of its COVID-19 expenses covered.
“We had some overtime,” Smith said. “We had some to quarantine and we went ahead and paid them.”
Smith said $1,800 had been spent on PPE and there hopefully will be other qualified expenses.
“We are still looking. We think the paramedic we brought in for municipal court to help take temperatures will qualify. There are also additional court expenses because it took longer with the precautions and social distancing.”
Smith said he is unsure how much the City of Dadeville will spend in response to the pandemic but is thankful for the allotment of up to $169,120.60 in reimbursements.
“It all adds up quickly,” Smith said. “It will help us recover some of the added burden.”
Categories for reimbursement fall into one of seven categories.
• PPE includes hand sanitizer, face masks, gloves, protective clothing and face shields
• Cleaning and sanitation includes cleaning products, disinfectants and sanitation services
• Medical includes thermometers, swabs, testing kits and lab tests
• Telework expenses include laptops, phones, software, computer equipment and supplies, VPN and WiFi
• Workplace safety preparations include plexiglass dividers and building or workstation modifications
• Training includes specialized instruction related to COVID-19
• Payroll includes public safety, public health, healthcare, human services and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency
The funding comes from the $1.8 billion awarded to Alabama under the CARES ACT. Counties and municipalities not receiving funds directly from the U.S. Government are splitting $250 million with $125 million to counties and $125 million to municipalities. The Alabama County Commission Association and the Alabama League of Municipalities assisted in developing formulas to spread the funding allotment.
Other municipalities in Tallapoosa County received allotments for reimbursements according to documents from the Alabama Department of Finance.
Camp Hill received $69,845.91. Goldville received $27,549.14. Jacksons Gap received $64,039.55. New Site received $60,876.73.