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Carroll County commissioners doling out $1.89M in COVID-19 relief funds, pledge $500K for restaurants, businesses

The Carroll County commissioners voted to devote nearly $1.9 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to various government partners, with the bulk to benefit fire companies and municipalities. Local businesses and restaurants can also expect more support.

Carroll County received $14.6 million in coronavirus relief funding from the federal government earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds must be spent by Dec. 30 and can only be used for costs related to COVID-19.

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In the first round of distribution, the commissioners agreed to help support fire companies that lost revenue they normally would have gained from fundraisers. The county’s coronavirus relief funding plan first allocated about $934,000 to fire companies through Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association (CCVESA).

This time around, the companies through CCVESA are requesting just under $1.5 million, county administrator Roberta Windham said Thursday. The funding will assist fire companies with lost revenue and go toward expenses fundraising would have covered, such as bills and rent.

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Various municipalities requested about $386,000 in total. County government spokesperson Chris Winebrenner provided a breakdown of the requests. Westminster will receive $230,000 for administrative leave, sick leave, unemployment, personal protective equipment and to set up a second public works office. Taneytown gets about $14,550 to purchase technology for commissions and boards to meet remotely. Sykesville will receive $35,000 to allow for virtual meeting capacity within the town hall. Manchester will spend $50,000 on ultraviolet lighting units for disinfecting surfaces. Hampstead asked for $40,260 for law enforcement hazard pay, a video camera in the meeting room and air purifiers. New Windsor requested $16,240 for tablets/technology for virtual meetings and cameras for monitoring the town hall. Union Bridge and Mount Airy did not request funding.

Carroll County Public Library plans to use about $8,560 for personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and bags for book pickups. The Humane Society of Carroll County asked for $651 for Plexiglass barriers for reopening.

By granting this distribution, the county is left with about $600,000 in coronavirus relief funding. The commissioners plan to expend $500,000 of that to support a local shopping and dining initiative, the details of which are expected to be released next week.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, broached the idea of using the remaining money to help restaurants prepare for dining outdoors in colder weather. The other commissioners quickly jumped on board.

“This industry’s going to take a huge hit, and we know that," said Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1.

The idea was expanded to supporting businesses to encourage residents to shop and dine locally, as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. Jack Lyburn, director of economic development, told the commissioners the Carroll Rebound program — which was funded by the federal relief funding — already distributed about $686,000 to restaurants.

Lyburn pledged to work out the details and come to the commissioners the following week with a fleshed-out proposal to meet their vision.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced he will provide $250 million more in financial relief for businesses struggling due to COVID-19 by drawing from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, The Baltimore Sun reported. Of that, $100 million will support an emergency rapid response fund for small businesses.

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