The city of Dalton is receiving some help in defraying some of the unexpected costs it has incurred as a result of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), thanks to the federal government.
City Administrator Jason Parker said Tuesday during a meeting of the city's Finance Committee that the city will receive about $1.72 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding. The CARES Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March.
The city will receive $528,685 of that money in the next few days, and City Council members say they will use it to reimburse the city for hazard pay the city has been paying to firefighters, police officers and Public Works Department employees who may come into contact with coronavirus patients or waste during their work.
"We've actually paid out a little more than that (since March)," Parker said.
Parker said employees in those departments have been getting about $2 an hour more in hazard pay.
"We are going to have to figure out what we are going to do with the rest of that money," said Mayor David Pennington.
Parker said the remaining $1.2 million has to be spent before the end of the year and must be spent on certain items.
"We can continue to use it for hazard pay," Parker said. "We can use it for the equipment that we need to clean and disinfect public buildings. We can use it for community programs — support for food or mortgage or rent. We are actually still waiting for a lot of the guidance. Once we understand that more fully, the council members can make a decision on how they wish to spend the money."
Whitfield County Administrator Mark Gibson said the county has received about $3.5 million in CARES Act funding. He said it hasn't been determined how that money will be spent, but the county must also spend that money in the uses specified by the federal government.
"Three expected major means of proceeds utilization are reimbursement of payroll expenditures for public safety (fire and law enforcement) employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitization of public building costs," he said.