The Henderson County Council of Commissioners continues to await instructions on how federal relief dollars for COVID-19 can be factored into the county’s proposed budget of $ 166.7 million for the next fiscal year.
During Wednesday’s budget workshop, Commissioners expressed frustration with the money.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, is a $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress.
More than $ 33 million in COVID-19 relief funds are allocated to Henderson County and its municipalities. Henderson County’s share is $ 22.7 million; $ 4.14 million for the town of Hendersonville; $ 2.45 million for Fletcher; $ 2.17 million for Mills River; $ 990,000 for Flat Rock; and $ 680,000 for Laurel Park.
Originally, municipalities were supposed to see funds flowing around mid-May. The money had not started arriving by the date of Wednesday’s budget workshop.
Deputy county manager Amy Brantley said counties are still awaiting specific instructions on what funding can and cannot be funneled into.
âWe want to make sure we spend (the funds) appropriately so that we don’t end up in a repayment situation,â Brantley said. She added that the federal government plans to carefully check how the dollars are spent.
Brantley is confident that funding for mental health and addiction services will be authorized as part of the plan. The lines are more blurred when it comes to capital improvement projects.
President Bill Lapsley said he was “very frustrated” at the lack of leadership he feels the county has received.
âI get phone calls, and I’m sure my colleagues do, too, from a lot of nonprofits asking if they have a project that might be eligible,â Lapsley said, adding that he was afraid of accidentally giving the wrong answer and causing disappointment. .
âWe ask everyone to be patient,â he said.
The commissioners noted that some funds provided for in the general fund in the current budget could be moved, covered by the COVID-19 relief funds, if necessary, freeing up funds for other projects.
County Director Steve Wyatt noted that commissioners are allowed to change the approved budget throughout the year.
The budget was originally presented to commissioners earlier this month. The proposed spending for this budget is $ 5.1 million higher than the FY2021 budget of $ 161.5 million.
The commissioners remained in agreement with the county manager not to increase the county property tax, which is expected to remain at 0.561 cents per $ 100 of property assessment. The council hopes to avoid confusion with the public, as the town of Hendersonville proposed a tax increase in its spending plan.
A public budget hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 7. Meetings will be webcast at www.hendersoncountync.gov/boc/page/video-broadcasts-board-commissioners-meetings. Citizens are permitted to attend in person and speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
To view the current budget proposal, go to www.hendersoncountync.gov/budget/page/fy-2021-2022-annual-budget