By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton supervisors held a public hearing Sept. 8 on the second round of funding the county received from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, more than $1 million.
Northampton will again give a portion of the funds to each of its incorporated towns based on population: approximately $118,000 for Exmore, $86,000 for Cape Charles, $41,000 for Nassawadox, $39,000 for Cheriton, and $14,000 for Eastville.
Northampton County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski wants to reserve about $497,000 of more than $2 million total in CARES funds for broadband internet access.
He recommended giving $75,000 to social services and $150,000 for other COVID-19-related “community support” efforts provided by the county, such as an extended summer camp program at the former Northampton Middle School.
The $150,000 would also fund grants for local businesses impacted by COVID-19, which Kolakowski acknowledged is a priority of supervisors.
It’s also a priority of former Northampton supervisor Spencer Murray, of Franktown, who read his public comments into the record.
He noted that after each town receives its share of CARES funds, the county will have about $1.5 million left.
“But this is not the County’s money,” Murray wrote. “It is a gift of federal taxpayer money passed through the Commonwealth to the County and towns to fund a number of programs designed to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our citizens.”
One of the recommended uses of the funds is to provide grants to small businesses “disproportionately impacted by mandated closures.”
“Restaurant owners, cooks, waitresses, beauticians, and most certainly our watermen, cannot work from home,” Murray continued.
He bore a “shameful message” to county supervisors: “my search of the County website revealed not one mention of CARES Act funds … no guidance for citizens, community organizations and businesses to see if they qualify for assistance.”
Murray called on supervisors to take immediate corrective action.
“I am embarrassed for Northampton that not one dollar has been distributed,” he wrote.
Kolakowski said citizens should be able to access Northampton’s grant application for COVID-19 relief by Friday.