Anoka County Commissioners approved a little over $4.6 million in new spending from the federal coronavirus relief bill Sept. 8.

Almost half of that money will go to a new virtual desktop infrastructure intended to improve security and staff access to county systems.

“This is a more secure and safe way for many of our staff to access into our system, whether they are doing it remotely or on mobile,” Cory Kampf, manager for the finances and central services division said.

Of the roughly $2.1 million budgeted for the project, $930,000 will be spent on end-user software, $809,300 is set for purchasing server hardware, and $408,000 is slated for end-user equipment.

The virtual desktop will allow staff greater flexibility when connecting to the county’s systems. The system is also expected to address issues with bandwidth, improving internet speeds, according to county documents.

Commissioners also approved almost $155,000, to purchase four UVC light disinfecting units to be installed in four county correctional facilities.

The systems will be wheeled room to room to disinfect spaces using UVC light, which damages DNA and RNA in viruses, eliminating their ability to reproduce. The light is also effective at killing bedbugs and lice, according to county documents.

A dozen Wi-Fi routers will be installed in the Lino Lakes Juvenile Center campus to facilitate remote court hearings and family visits. Installation and purchase of the routers costs about $21,000

The county’s dispatch center will be expanded with the purchase of equipment for five fully functioning dispatch consoles, costing almost $1.5 million. The current dispatch center does not allow 6 feet between consoles. The new consoles will be placed in the training room to allow for social distancing, according to county documents.

“What this will do is it will allow a fully functioning dispatch center to be put into the training room,” Commissioner Julie Braastad said. “It’s really important to be able to get some social distancing down there.”

Anoka County’s Transportation Division will purchase two message trailers for almost $39,000. The trailers will be used to provide the public with information on road construction projects, public meetings, polling places and COVID-19-related information, such as school equipment pickup, according to county documents.

Four Anoka County libraries will receive book lockers, which will help alleviate capacity issues. Due to COVID-19 the library put capacity limits on how many people may be inside at one time. Two libraries have hit that capacity repeatedly, forcing patrons to wait outside.

Commissioners approved almost $251,000 for the lockers, which will be installed at the Johnsville, St. Francis, Mississippi and Northtown libraries.

Another $26,000 will go to purchasing plastic barriers to improve access to library computers and to meet social distancing requirements in the Economic Assistance Department’s call center.

Currently only half of library computers are available, due to social distancing requirements. The barriers will effectively double the available computers, according to county documents.

The economic assistance call center has short walls, below face level when sitting. When fully staffed, the center does not have enough separation to meet social distancing requirements, according to county documents.

Commissioners approved $521,000 to assist nonprofits that have expanded their services due to COVID-19. Up to $3 million has been allocated by the county for a safety net that aids nonprofit programming. The recent vote will provide aid to the Anoka County Community Action Program, the Salvation Army, Impact Services for Meals on Wheels, Alexandra House, the YMCA, the Lee Carlson Center, Youth First, RADIAS Health, Touchstone Mental Health, North Suburban Counseling and Centennial Community Network.

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