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Dare commissioners set up COVID-19 financing

Dare County is receiving funding to cover COVID-19 costs.

Two major funding avenues are the North Carolina Coronavirus Relief Fund and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state.

In order to receive relief funding, Dare County’s Board of Commissioners adopted a spending plan June 15. The plan required the county to tabulate monies already expended and predict spending through Dec. 30, 2020. The plan can be amended.

The county estimates that $852,149 will be applied to expenses covered by the relief fund. The amount corresponds with the approved plan.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds will be used first, as directed by the State of North Carolina. The agency’s eligible category is Emergency Protective Measures. Dare currently budgets $626,779 for this category. This FEMA budget covers such expenses as Emergency Operations Center equipment, supplies and operation, personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitizing public building, testing and six other categories.

In addition to adopting the required plan, the commissioners approved a budget amendment to the county’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The county has or will receive grants covering health department costs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($67,354), CARES Act for Medicare Providers-Part 1 ($235,986, plus additional funding that has yet to be approved to cover additional revenue loss), Elections ($76,436), and Transportation ($140,519) for operating costs.

The Dare commissioners also approved a new Master Trust Agreement that includes the partially funded Other Post-Employment Benefits Irrevocable Trust Agreement that covers retiree health benefits and a Law Enforcement Officers’ Special Separation Allowance Trust Fund.

The law officers’ special fund is created in the new trust agreement in anticipation of a new accounting standard requirement.

Under the existing and new trust agreement, the trustees are those who hold the positions of County Manager, Finance Director and Human Resources Director. With the creation of the new trust, only one set of documents will be needed. Within the trust, separate accounts will be set up for the two funds.

In another financial move, the commissioners adopted a revised Reserve/Fund Balance policy.

One policy change sets a target percentage of 21% of revenue for unassigned fund balance of the General Fund. This is a change from the previous policy which set a 19% to 21% range.

The fund balance in the Disaster Recovery Fund is set at 1% of the General Fund (#10 fund only) budget.

The final change is to establish and maintain a “Capital Investment Fund and debt affordability model with a target fund balance coverage of a minimum of 0.33 times and a target of 0.50 times annual debt service.

The commissioners approved a disaster debris monitoring contract with Thompson Consulting of Lake Mary, Fla. Thompson submitted the low bid for the three-year contract. The firm has monitored storm debris removal in Dare County for the last six years.

Commissioner Rob Ross spoke directly to the Dare County Sheriff’s deputy in the room during Commissioners’ Business: “you all represent the best we have to offer. You perform your duties with professionalism and calm all the time . . .”

He continued: “I can only tell you that, from my perspective, you have my utmost respect gratitude and appreciation and that the last thing I’ve seen, which again stretches my bounds of credibility, is defunding of the police movement that quite frankly makes no sense to me, and will never be, and I’ll never support that as long as I’m sitting in this chair.”

“Here, here,” came from two commissioners.

Board Chairman Robert L. Woodard responded “thank you, Commissioner Ross. Well said. Absolutely this board, I’m sure, is unanimous behind everything you said. It’s just unbelievable.”

Commissioner Steve House said he wanted to echo Commissioner Ross’ comments. House said he had worked side by side with law enforcement officers “I have the utmost respect for all of them.”

Board Vice Chairman Wally Overman stated he wanted to get in the long line for voicing his “highest respect for law enforcement.”

Commissioner Ervin Bateman said “thank you for your comments, Commissioner Ross.” He moved on to masks: “It’s all about common sense,” and later added, “It’s all about respect.”

Commissioner Danny Couch said he wanted to echo Rob Ross. “Thank you for bringing up your points, there,” said Couch.

County Manager Robert L. Outten asked for a closed session to preserve the attorney-client privilege on the opioid lawsuit, the Bailey lawsuit and the Blackburn lawsuit.

The board went into closed session at 6:41 p.m. and returned to open session at 7:43. Outten reported that the board took no action.

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