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Tucker ready to hand out $4.1 million in CARES money

COVID-19 Tucker

Tucker ready to hand out $4.1 million in CARES money

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FILE PHOTO: Assistant City Manager for the City of Tucker John McHenry delivers protective masks to the Northlake Senior Apartments on Northlake Parkway May 16. The city purchased 6,400 masks to distribute to care facilities, small businesses and residents in need using funds budgeted for projects canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus. Photo by Dean Hesse.


By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

Tucker, GA — Tucker Mayor Frank Auman said the city is “ready to roll” with distribution of $4.1 million of money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money is in the bank, Auman said at the City Council meeting on Sept. 28. It was picked up from DeKalb County and deposited last week.

CARES Act covers necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency between March 1 and Dec. 20, 2020. Expenses may be related to medical, public health, payroll, and COVID compliance.

Tucker plans to divide CARES Act funds between small business and non-profit organizations, distance learning programs, and social assistance to residents. The city will use $156,000 to cover sanitation supplies and masks distributed to the public.

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Tucker hired Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) to manage the process of distributing $2.3 million to businesses, from application to audit. Applications open Oct. 1 for business owners to apply for $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 in funding. LISC ensures each applicant is in good standing with local, state, and federal laws, and current on taxes.

Virtual learning programs are up and running at three locations, which stand to share $500,000 from the CARES Act. The program capacity is 210 students from Kindergarten to eighth grade. Virtual learning locations are Rehoboth Baptist Church, St. Andrews Church, and Tucker First United Methodist. Program fees cover breakfast and lunch, care before and after school hours, and facilitation of digital learning.

“We are proud to help give working families this option so that they can continue to work through the pandemic,” said Matt Holmes, communications director.

Food programs, rent and mortgage assistance, and utility assistance is being managed by NETWorks Cooperative Ministry, a cooperative of churches in DeKalb County. They will receive $900,000 to aid residents in need.

CARES Act money must be spent by Dec. 20, or it is required to be returned to the federal government.

In other news:

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– City Council held a closed executive session for litigation, personnel, and real estate purposes. After executive session, council members voted unanimously to accept DeKalb County’s Sept. 22 offer to sell 4316 Church St., a former public library. An appraisal dated Feb. 6 states the fair market value of the land is $230,000.  A Tucker spokesperson said the library building will be demolished to create a public space for the community. The city does not yet have a long-term plan for the space.

– Finance director Toni Jo Howard reported a downward trend in revenues, stating that if revenues and expenditures stay at their current levels throughout the year, the City would experience a shortfall of $1.7 million. Council member Noelle Monferdini asked if council needs to start discussing where to make budget cuts. No immediate action was taken.

– City engineer Ken Hildebrandt provided an update on 2020 Special Purpose Local Tax Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) spending. Tucker Streetscape, a project that focuses on improving downtown, is 60 percent finished, with lighting and landscaping remaining.

– Tucker Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson announced two Halloween events sponsored by the city: On Oct. 30, a haunted trail hike by reservation only, and on Oct. 31, a socially distanced trick-or-treat event at four city parks – Montreal Park, Kelly Cofer Park, Smoke Rise Park, and the Tucker Recreation Center.

– Solar panels installed this week at Tucker Recreation Center will provide power to the building and replace 25 to 50 percent of power needs for the building, which houses the IT server for the city. The State of Georgia contributed $50,000 to the project.

– Tucker City Hall is open to the public with safety precautions in place. An open house event is being planned for October.

– A second read of an ordinance to allow bondsmen to be used at Tucker’s new traffic court was passed by council members unanimously.

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