County gets nearly $500K in COVID-19 relief funds


State money must be used to assist in recovery efforts


RALEIGH – North Carolina Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, announced this past week Senatorial District 47, which he represents, will receive $4,563,653 to cover immediate expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Getting these funds to the counties to deal with the impact of COVID-19 was our top priority upon returning to Raleigh,” Hise said. “For those counties hard-hit by the pandemic, this relief and recovery funding will lay the groundwork for moving forward.”

Mitchell County will receive $493,469 in relief funds that can be used to offset coronavirus-related costs incurred by establishing temporary medical facilities, testing, disinfecting public areas, implementing public safety measures, and purchasing and distributing protective supplies.

“We are working on the allocation of funds,” said Tim Greene, Mitchell County manager. “Some of the funds will be used to offset payroll expenses associated with mitigating and responding to the pandemic, purchasing sanitizing products, personal protective equipment, etc.”

The legislation providing this funding is the product of weeks of good-faith bipartisan negotiations, long hours and hard work by members and staff of the NC General Assembly to fund immediate needs, support research and lift up those hit hardest by the economic impact of COVID-19, according to a press release from Hise’s office.

Madison County received $603,961; McDowell County received $994,465; Polk County received $587,186; Rutherford County received $1,340,584; and Yancey County received $543,988.

Ninety-seven of North Carolina’s counties will receive funding through the state’s 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act, which established a $300-million Local Government Coronavirus Reserve. Half of the reserve is being directly distributed to counties. 

Counties that did not receive funds from the federal CARES Act are eligible for a base payment of $250,000, with additional money allocated based on per capita population. Counties may allocate portions of the funds to municipalities for those expenses. 

“Communities across the state are suffering because of the coronavirus and are struggling to cover necessary expenses to keep their residents safe,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. “This $150 million is key to helping our communities fight this virus. I’m thankful the General Assembly unanimously approved the funding so we can continue down the road to recovery.” 

Hise said the economic impact of this virus is forcing elected officials to take stock of government services such as trash collection, law enforcement operations and street repairs to find every penny they can to save for essential services. The General Assembly’s nearly $1.6 billion COVID-19 recovery bill reserved another $150 million for local government use once the federal government allows greater flexibility for use, including filling budget shortfalls.