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Carroll commissioners to discuss how to spend federal relief dollars this week

Carroll County Commissioners, from left, Dennis Frazier Stephen Wantz, Ed Rothstein, Richard Weaver and Eric Bouchat stand for pictures after they were sworn in by Carroll County Clerk of Court Heather DeWees during a ceremony in Westminster Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018.
Carroll County Commissioners, from left, Dennis Frazier Stephen Wantz, Ed Rothstein, Richard Weaver and Eric Bouchat stand for pictures after they were sworn in by Carroll County Clerk of Court Heather DeWees during a ceremony in Westminster Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

As local governments plan how to use federal COVID-19 relief dollars, Carroll County commissioners continue to work through a process of reviewing potential projects brought forward by various department heads.

During a fiscal recovery funds presentation in July, commissioners were briefed for the first time on project packages from several different county departments. Roberta Windham, county administrator, told commissioners although the county is slated to receive about $32 million in federal aid, there are a total of 54 county projects being proposed which total $57 million in overall spending.

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Thursday afternoon the board is slated to discuss in open session the proposals after having a few weeks to review that presentation. No staff are planned to participate and no decisions are planned, according to a county spokesperson.

Commissioners plan to discuss the process moving forward, which may include future steps to narrow down the projects, whether another meeting is needed with staff or if the commissioners want another board only discussion.

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The county is waiting to receive final guidance from the federal government on exactly how the funds can be spent.

“This is the first opportunity to discuss the director’s proposed projects, and these conversations will help us ensure the best use of the federal recovery funds,” Commissioner President Rothstein, R-District 5, said. “It is the commissioners’ responsibility to balance the director’s priority projects with serving the needs of the community and considering the overall future plan for the county.”

The American Rescue Plan provides $350 billion to help states, counties, cities and tribal governments to cover increased costs and replenish lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Payments are being released to governments in two parts, with half being directed now and the other half next May.

Maryland counties will share $1.1 billion in aid, and state municipalities will split a similar sum.

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