The funding mechanism is a departure from earlier eligibility criteria, which limited the aid to communities of 500,000 or more, which meant only the city of Atlanta and Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties qualified.
The money is part of $1.23 billion the state is releasing to cities and counties across Georgia that did not qualify for the first round of funding in March. In total, Georgia received about $4.1 billion in federal funds through the CARES Act for coronavirus-related expenses, allocating about $1.8 billion of that to local governments.
Smaller communities will get immediate access to about 30% of their total funds, which they must spend by Sept. 1 or the state will use it for other purposes, the governor’s office said. The remaining 70% will be used to reimburse expenses the smaller communities incur because of the virus.
Henry County leaders said the impact of the virus has been broad and that will be reflected in how they spend their portion of CARES Act funding.
“Henry County plans to apply the funds toward expenditures incurred that were initially used to respond to the emergency,” Henry County Finance Director David Smith said in an email. “We will also address business interruptions caused by closures of small businesses, will work to assist local non-profits and provide emergency assistance for families and individuals that have been directly impacted by loss of income during this crisis.”
Stockbridge City Manager Randy Knighton said the money is critical because the devastation the virus has brought was unforeseen.
“We are certainly appreciative of the opportunity to take advantage of the funding that’s been provided in service to the our citizens,” he said. “We are all doing our best to operate during this pandemic and beyond.”
Randy Ognio, chairman of the Fayette County Commission, said he too is thankful for the funding assistance, but wants to make sure the county is only getting what it needs. Peachtree City, for instance, may need more help than Fayette, the county it sits in, because it lost revenue when the city’s hotels were shuttered. Fayette County does not have hotels.
“Like everything else, we want to be responsible,” he said. “We want to be reimbursed for what we legitimately spent on the COVID stuff.”
Georgia is allocating $1.2 billion in federal CARES Act funds to help communities across the state fight COVID-19. Here’s how much south metro Atlanta cities and counties will get.
Unincorporated Clayton County: $12.2 million
College Park (Clayton County portion): $73,706
Forest Park: $1 million
Lake City: $148,092
Unincorporated Fayette County: $2.7 million
Peachtree City : $1.9 million
Unincorporated Henry County: $8.5 million
Locust Grove: $431,502
McDonough: $1.4 million
Stockbridge: $1.6 million