Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
North Carolina House of Representative Kevin Corbin has been travelling his district in Western North Carolina to meet with local government leaders regarding COVID19 and the needs of individual counties and towns.
“I am here because I want to hear from you directly as to what you need and how I can help you on the state level,” Corbin said on Friday while meeting with Macon County Commissioners, as well as Town Managers from both Franklin and Highlands.
Corbin spoke to the group about the more than $800,000 the state provided to Macon County as a portion of the federal government’s CARES Act, which was implemented to provide relief for unexpected expenses incurred during the COVID19 pandemic. According to Corbin, the funding has to be spent on expenses caused by COVID19 such as bulk orders of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for staff, or even for overtime pay for employees.
One example Corbin gave was regarding the Highlands Police Department and the additional staffing they needed to operate checkpoints into the town during their State of Emergency.
“I am sure those officers were paid some overtime, and these funds can go to cover those costs,” Corbin said to Highlands Manager Josh Ward.
The $833,000 Macon County received will be sent to the county and then the county will divide that money to the two municipalities.
“I have met with both Summer [Town of Franklin Manager] and Josh [Highlands Manager] as to the needs they are seeing and how we can equally divide the funds,” Macon County Manager Derek Roland said on Friday.
Rep. Corbin said that as the law surrounding the funding is currently written, those funds cannot be used to make up for revenue shortfalls – such a decrease in sales tax revenues, although the decline can be attributed to COVID19. However, he said that he is actively working to have those rules loosened to allow the county more flexibility.
Rep. Corbin also informed leaders that the $833,000 is just half of the funding the state has for Macon County.
“We wanted to get money out as quickly as possible to help with immediate needs, so that is half of what we received from the federal government,” said Rep. Corbin. “We have money set back and will look at ways to allocate those funds to local governments in the future based on what happens over the next few months.”
Roland followed up with the Macon County Board of Commissioners this week regarding the CARES Act funding and informed them that he will have a more clear picture of how those funds will be used and distributed by the commissioners June meeting, at which point commissioners are expected to vote on a budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.