Pottawatomie County Commissioners on Monday approved a $40,000 cap on funding for small business grants, through its federal CARES act allotment.
Businesses that have incurred expenses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can apply up to that amount. That leaves the county with just under $435,000 available to those businesses. That’s approximately $118,000 more than what officials had recommended, with the previous $25,000 per business cap. County Operations Officer Andrea Umscheid says businesses that qualify would have until the end of the year to apply through a straightforward process.
“With the grant program, they’re not having to submit all these reimbursements. It’s pretty clear cut, they apply, we either approve or deny it, and then at the next reporting period we cut them a check for that grant,” she said.
As of Monday, Umscheid tells KMAN, 20 businesses have applied, including daycares, nursing homes, nonprofits and some for profit businesses. Communities including Wamego, Havensville and Onaga have additional funds available through CARES funding. Commissioners largely wanted to stay neutral on capping the dollars available to businesses.
“If we got to that then the rest goes back to us and if they still need it, I want you to be able to understand, it’s more important they got it than us,” she said.
The county has received roughly $4.9 million from the federal government. Approximately $1 million each went to cities, school districts and county reimbursements as well as $1.4 million for the county plan, which includes proposed expenditures submitted by department heads.
In other business Monday, the county commission received an update on space needs at the Clerk’s office.
County Clerk Nancy McCarter says space is limited for her office to conduct necessary election training on Nov. 2 to poll workers, especially given current COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re going to split the training to half in the morning and half in the afternoon, to downsize the people in the same area,” she said.
They will use the former county commission room for two one hour training sessions that day. McCarter reminded commissioners that because the new County Clerk will be approaching commissioners in 2021 to address space concerns. County Treasurer Lisa Wright plans to use that space going forward citing a need for more space than the Clerk’s office.
“We can’t keep bothering her to use that space, even though it only takes an hour, it just creates chaos,” McCarter said.
McCarter says she’s expecting an 80 percent voter turnout for the general election and is set to send out over 3,400 mail ballots next week. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 13. Advanced voting by mail and in person begins on Oct. 14. County offices will be closed Oct. 12 in observance of Columbus Day.
The commission also approved the purchase of a medical refrigerator/freezer for eventual storage of COVID-19 vaccines. Because a vaccine may not be readily available until after Dec. 31, the $17,500 needed for that purchase likely won’t be applicable to CARES Act funding, which must be used before the end of the year. County Administrator Chad Kinsley told commissioners that funding would likely have to be pulled from the county’s unclassified fund or another source.
The county is expected to spend $149,500 in EMS medical equipment among its $1.5 million total plan allocation.