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Carroll County commissioners give preliminary approval to federal COVID project funding

While local governments await final guidance from the federal government on how to spend COVID-19 relief dollars, the Carroll County commissioners agreed to move forward with several projects involving behavioral health resources, heating and air conditioning upgrades for county buildings and fiber installation.

The county is slated to receive about $32 million in federal aid the through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Funding must be dedicated by the end of 2024 with projects complete by the end of 2026.

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At Thursday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, several county department heads reviewed specific projects that are likely eligible for the funding and requested permission to move forward with them.

Debby Standiford, grants manager for the county, said the U.S. Senate passed a bill on Tuesday night that would give added flexibility in spending recovery funds. The legislation is now headed to the House of Representatives for its vote.

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“The biggest change is it would allow us to take $10 million of the funds and claim it as lost revenue and use it for general county purchases,” Standiford said.

Commissioner President Ed Rothstein, R-District, noted the legislation could “change the game a bit because it does open up our opportunities to use these funds.”

The board approved 18 projects so far, including a request for proposals for Carroll local nonprofits to address behavioral health care needs, 3D accident and crime scene reconstruction hardware for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, six HVAC upgrades in various county buildings and five fiber installation projects, among others.

After funding these projects, more than $20 million will be left to in the Fiscal Recovery Fund.

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The process to get to this point included a July session when staff provided broad overviews of 44 potential projects with total cost of over $57 million. Then, in August, the commissioners considered the projects and narrowed the list which would advance for further review.

Residents interested in following the process can access information, presentations and recorded sessions on a dedicated county webpage, https://www.carrollcountymd.gov/frf.

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