DeKalb County Commission passes CARES Act agreements, but Brookhaven will have to wait
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
Decatur, GA — DeKalb County cities not named Brookhaven are one step closer to receiving $125 million from the CARES Act.
Brookhaven may have to wait until September before it can receive the $6.3 million it’s due in CARES Act funding. Commissioner Jeff Rader wants to use the money to force the city to negotiate with the county over unrelated issues.
During a special called meeting on Aug. 27, the County Commission approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with 11 of 12 cities for distribution of the money.
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The state of Georgia received approximately $4.1 billion. According to a letter from Gov. Brian Kemp, local governments’ maximum share of funding is approximately $1.8 billion. Five counties with populations over 500,000 received direct allocations, leaving approximately $1.23 billion remaining for additional allocations.
In April, DeKalb County received $125 million from the CARES Act and plans to distribute federal funding to its 12 municipalities.
Commissioners on Aug. 27 complained about being unprepared to take a vote, although county attorney Viviane H. Ernstes said the latest version of IGA was emailed to the BOC on Aug. 25 at 4:30 p.m.
Additional documents requested during the meeting – a preliminary list of spending plans for each municipality from the office of DeKalb COO Zach Williams’ — left commissioners confused about why they were voting.
Commissioner Larry Johnson said, “This is very confusing. I’m hearing that we need to approve the CARES Act, but we also got a projected budget from each city, and they still have to come back before us … to approve these items …”
“They’re not going to come back with a list of items for you to approve,” said Ernstes. “You are not approving the list, you are not approving the items, you are asking for informational purposes for a list of projects 30 days after receipt of the funds.”
The obligation to spend under the federal law correctly is the responsibility of the city, its city attorney, its city finance director, and its mayor and city council, Ernstes said.
The city of Tucker was commended for creativity in potential spending on public transportation and childcare.
“Those are individual costs that will help people survive, and that’s what we have to do,” said Commissioner Kathe Gannon.
Tucker Mayor Frank Auman said, “Our staff has been working diligently to prepare for these funds and we are excited to support businesses and individuals during this challenging time. As soon as we’re able to analyze what actually passed, we’ll be announcing what programs we’ll fund.”
The County Commission gave Ernstes authority to approve one section of the IGA regarding disbursement from the tax commissioner to the federal government. It is the only part of the IGA that remains in flux.
Here’s a breakdown of the CARES Act fund distribution:
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Avondale Estates: $354,891
Pine Lake: $85,519
Stone Mountain: $712,391
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