Utah County 2020 budget explainer 02

The Utah County Administration Building stands Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The Utah County Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to adjust its 2020 general fund budget to account for over $111 million in federal funding allocated to the county to aid in local response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The approval came after a public hearing held Wednesday to discuss “increases and amendments in Utah County’s 2020 General Fund and various other Utah County 2020 budgetary funds for the Coronavirus Relief Funding (CARES Act) received from the United States Department of Treasury,” as stated in the resolution that was voted on.

No members of the public gave comment during Wednesday’s public hearing.

Utah County received $111.6 million in federal funding through the CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March.

On June 17, the commission voted to allocate $45.8 million of that money to cities and towns in the county based on population and for the county to hold onto $45.8 million. The remaining $20 million will go toward economic relief for businesses and nonprofits throughout the county.

A committee composed of six mayors and Commissioner Nathan Ivie, which has yet to be formed, will be responsible for determining how specifically the $20 million is spent.

The budget adjustment Wednesday was largely procedural, according to Danene Jackson, a financial officer with the Utah County Clerk/Auditor’s Office, and how the county will spend its portion of the federal funding intended to cover local government coronavirus-related expenses still needs to be determined.

“And so this whole budget amendment is just to appropriate those funds related to the CARES Act,” Jackson said. “The county already has the $111,630,342 in its bank account, and this is just going through the public process to spend those funds.”

The addition of the $11.6 million in CARES Act funding, as well as $5 million in “intergovernmental revenue,” brought Utah County’s total revenue and expenditures from grants and outside projects for the year to $159.7 million.

Jackson told the commissioners that the additional $5 million was a placeholder for any additional federal grants or funding related to COVID-19 that gets approved by Congress.

“And so that $5 million would be if those grants actually ended up being awarded,” she said. “If they were never awarded, those funds would not be spent.”

Along similar lines, the commission approved increasing its “building maintenance” budget by $10 million and “computer support” budget by $8 million, which Jackson said would both be paid for by “other grant opportunities that may be available.”

“At the beginning of next week, we are going to kind of refine these numbers a little bit,” Commissioner Bill Lee said. “And so these are just numbers that are plugged in there for now to start the process.”

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the commission voted 2-1 to approve a $50,250 contract between Utah County and Provo-based Interwest Safety Supply so that the company can provide the Clerk/Auditor’s with three variable-message signs.

Deputy Clerk/Auditor Josh Daniels told the commission the signs would be used to convey information to voters during the upcoming primary election, which will feature four outdoor drive-up polling stations throughout the county.

Daniels added that he believed the signs could be paid for with federal COVID-19 funding since the pandemic has forced election officials to adjust how they are conducting the primary election.

Lee, who voted against approving the contract, said he recognized that the signs would be useful for the upcoming election but didn’t think the need was great enough to warrant the funding.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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