The Board of Commissioners will tackle several issues related to the coronavirus at its Tuesday meeting, including how to spend more than $130 million in federal aid it received in April.
The money was made available by the CARES Act, which Congress passed in late March.
East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott is proposing spending $50 million to support county businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The money would not be available to those that have already received loans from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program or Small Business Administration.
The proposal was crafted, in part, by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, which would receive $50,000 for helping to administer the aid.
According to the proposal, the chamber conducted a survey of Cobb businesses and found that 32% of them fear the coronavirus may put them out of business and 60% said they would need financial support to continue operating.
If approved, the money would only be available to businesses with “their headquarters, regional office, central office or primary in Cobb County.”
Applications would be reviewed by a committee established by the chamber and the Board of Commissioners.
Each eligible business would be able to tap between $20,000 and $40,000, depending on its size.
Ott is also proposing $1.6 million in rental assistance for low-income families facing eviction from “qualified apartment communities.”
If approved, tenants would be able to apply for a grant of up to 70% of their rental delinquency. The tenant would have to match 20% of the delinquency; the landlord would have to match 10% and waive any late fees.
Qualified apartments would be those that offer rentals priced between 30% and 80% of the “area median income.”
The program would be administered by nonprofit Star-C Communities.
Commissioners will also consider approving seven “broad scope” categories on which CARES Act money can be spent: Disaster relief/county preparedness, economic development/business loans, emergency food program, emergency shelter program, school assistance programs, job training and “county contingency.”
The county has already allocated $1 million of the CARES Act money for the purchase of food by local nonprofits.
According to the proposal, the board should be able to add or remove categories “should the need arise” and will vote on other specific measures that fall within those categories as they are put forward.
In other CARES Act business, the county will consider using funds the bill earmarked for transportation to keep the CobbLinc Cumberland Circulator running through the end of this year or until the tax revenues that fund the routes return to their pre-COVID levels.
The money would come from the CARES Act rather than county coffers, and the Cobb Department of Transportation does not specify in its request how much the proposal would cost.
The board will also consider offering poll workers a $50 supplement on top of the money they would have earned anyway for staffing election sites June 9.
County elections volunteers make between $115 and $200 on Election Day, depending on their role.
The Department of Elections and Voter Registration has sounded the alarms on its ability to staff polls during the early voting period and on election day itself.
A large percentage of volunteers are older adults, according to department head Janine Eveler, and many have decided they will not volunteer this year, fearful of contracting the coronavirus. Older people are most likely to experience severe symptoms related to the coronavirus.
If the department ultimately succeeds in hiring all 1,455 people it would need to fully staff each election site, the proposal would cost almost $73,000, according to county documents.
The board will also consider approving a list of projects to be funded by a penny sales tax voters will be asked to renew in November.
A list of projects was not included in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
The meeting is at 1:30 p.m., will be held virtually and can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube, cobbcounty.org and cable TV.
Those would would like to participate during the public comment section can do so by signing up online. The first 12 who sign up will be given slots.