Nearly $30 Million In Coronavirus Relief Funds Left Unspent

Money could go towards public safety salaries, other programs

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DeLand, FL - Almost $30 million out of the $96.5 million that Volusia County received in April for Coronavirus relief remains, and the county has to figure out what to do with that money before it expires in December.

The money could go towards programs and projects that the county already has in place for COVID-19 assistance. But, according to an agenda item from Tuesday's (November 17th) meeting, not all of those programs and projects will use the entire amount previously allocated. In total, with unallocated and allocated but unspent amounts considered, the county expects to have about $30 million left over—which must be spent before December 30th.

One possible pathway the funds could take could be into the salaries of the county's public safety personnel. A resolution filed by the officials could see almost $26 million in unallocated funds be used to reimburse the county for payroll and benefits of public safety employees.

Any leftover money could also make its way into other programs the county has already funded with Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), such as the county's rental and mortgage assistance program—which has seen the submission of almost 8,900 applications, according to Community Services Director Dona Butler.

County officials also received an additional funding request from the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County (DOH). Per a letter from DOH Administrator Patricia Boswell to the council, 11 staff members have been reassigned to the DOH's COVID response and are expected to "continue in their new COVID role for the foreseeable future." Those 11 employees are four epidemiologists, four nursing and nursing support staff, and three logistical support staff—who do not have a dedicated funding source since being reassigned. 

"The funding to pay them has come from our declining reserves – which we anticipate will be depleted before the end of the State fiscal year," wrote Boswell.

To keep those 11 employees from the first of next year through to June 30th, 2021, the projected cost is almost $320,000. There is also the need to oversee and supervise that staff, which is expected to cost another $47,000. Boswell also mentioned that the DOH anticipates the need for enhanced immunization efforts over the next several months, which also includes outreach to provide flu shots to under-served communities. However, most of the state's resources have been allocated to fighting COVID-19, leaving their supply of flu vaccines to be "considerably less than normal."

Therefore, the DOH is requesting almost $13,000 for about 775 flu vaccines—which puts their total overall funding request at $380,000.

The Volusia County Council is slated to meet again on December 15th.

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