San Juan County receives more CARES Act funds from the state

San Juan County will receive a second injection of federal CARES Act funding. On Aug. 21, Gov. Jay Inslee announced nearly $190 million was to be awarded from the state’s federal stimulus funding to local governments that did not receive direct distributions under the CARES Act.

“Our local public health jurisdictions, cities and counties have worked tirelessly since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 appeared in Washington to protect their communities,” Inslee said in a press release. “This much-needed infusion of funds will help sustain their efforts to stop the spread of this virus.”

San Juan County is one of the recipients and will receive $343,000 from the Department of Commerce and $343,000 from the Department of Health, according to County Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas told the San Juan County Council about the latest funding during its Sept. 15 meeting.

“First and foremost, it focuses on our COVID-19 response,” Thomas said, adding that the county does not yet have answers to how the money will be spent.

“Counties continue to deliver the critical services needed to combat COVID-19 while also providing support to local businesses and our most vulnerable populations,” Robert Gelder, Kitsap County commissioner and president of the Washington State Association of Counties, said in a press release. “The release of additional dollars from the Coronavirus Relief Fund comes at a crucial time as we prepare for the cold and flu season.”

Thomas added that the county is eyeing the money for the current expense fund.

“Not much in the way of answers or direction for the council at this time, just wanted to make you aware that we got that additional money from commerce and are trying to figure out how to expend that money,” Thomas said. “There’s good news, we have additional money to spend, so we need to figure out how to spend that.”

San Juan County has not yet submitted against the original CARES Act funding, COVID Emergency Operations Center Finance and Admin Chair Tara Anderson, who is also a senior budget analyst for the county, said. It has submitted $110,000 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, however.

“As far as the CARES spending, we have incurred roughly $862,000 worth of expenses through the end of August on our response,” Anderson said. “The majority of that — 72 percent — is direct public health response activity.”

Overall, Anderson said the county is anticipating a total of $2 million of CARES support for public health response and county government — this amount excludes funds specific to housing, elections and courts.

“This is really great news for the community and for the county. Very exciting,” San Juan County Council Chairperson Rick Hughes said. “Thank you to all who have worked so hard on this, in this process, and I think that this will be much-needed aid in the next few months.”