MARIETTA — In partnership with the Cobb Board of Commissioners, the cities of Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Springs and Smyrna devoted federal CARES Act funding to small businesses, new technology and safety equipment.
The federal government gave Cobb County $132 million in federal CARES Act funding to address damage caused by the coronavirus, and the county doled out about $10.3 million to its six cities.
At a Monday afternoon commission meeting, city leaders told county commissioners how their respective cities spent their allocated federal funds in response to the pandemic. Across Cobb’s cities, leaders directed funds to local business, new technology to improve the remote working experience and personal protective equipment for those who continued working in person.
Acworth City Manager Brian Bulthuis said Cobb gave the city about $1.1 million from the CARES Act, and all of that money has been spent or assigned to be spent.
“We want to thank the board for their consideration for these funds,” Bulthuis said. “They’ve gone a long way in our community.”
The city spent $588,000 on business grants, writing checks in amounts of about $5,000 to $6,000 for local businesses.
Acworth budgeted about $105,000 for computers and other technology to facilitate remote work, and it has spent about $101,000 of that budget so far. It budgeted another $230,000 for technology upgrades in city facilities like city hall, the police department and other locations. This money will be spent on audio and video technology to allow for more virtual meetings. The city also budgeted $80,000 for building modifications to better allow for social distancing.
Another $143,000 was assigned to cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment, and other funds were allocated for legal costs and public communication notification.
“We are pleased that we have been able to allocate 100% of our funds,” Bulthuis said.
Rachel Yarbrough, assistant director of Austell’s finance department, said the city was awarded about $376,000 in CARES Act money. To date, the city has spent about $176,000 of those funds, primarily directing money to protective equipment, technology and public safety salaries. About $127,000 will fund salaries of police officers, firefighters and other public safety employees.
The city has proposed spending its remaining $200,000 on four projects: medical equipment, software for remote work, a city hall drive-thru and upgrades to HVAC filtration systems. Yarbrough expects outstanding projects to be completed by the end of 2020.
Kennesaw City Manager Jeff Drobney said the city received about $1.8 million in CARES Act money. It allocated that money to technology, safety equipment and renovations to the community center.
The city purchased laptops for employees working from home, and it installed audio and video equipment to the Ben Robertson Community Center. According to Drobney, the center will provide more space for meetings and court hearings that normally take place in the small council chambers.
The city also invested in touchless sinks and toilets in bathrooms, as well as temperature scanners for the community center and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.
Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton said the city received about $3.2 million in CARES Act funding to reimburse the city for salaries paid to firefighters from March through the start of July.
Powder Springs received about $805,000 from the CARES Act, and it used that money on business grants, technology and safety equipment. About half of the money, $400,000, was directed to business grants. Grants of up to $5,000 are being distributed to small businesses through December.
The city also ordered nearly $80,000 in Chromebooks for Tapp Middle School and McEachern High School, and it directed another $15,000 on iPads for Powder Springs and Compton Elementary Schools. Powder Springs also bought iPads laptops, software, and other technology for city use.
About $111,000 was directed to resident housing and utility assistance, covering rent, mortgage and utility payments for Powder Springs households.
Jeff Bennett, acting city manager in Smyrna, said the city was awarded about $3 million in CARES Act funding, and it used that money to pay for technology, personal protective equipment, small business grants and reimbursing the city for coronavirus-related expenses.
The city used about $2 million on reimbursements, protective equipment and technology.
A small business program allocated $750,000 to local businesses. Businesses can apply for grants through Friday. The city also purchased $162,000 worth of Wi-Fi hot spots for Cobb school students to use through the end of the calendar year.