Isanti County Cares

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During the Isanti County Board meeting Sept. 2, County Administrator Julia Lines explained the county received $4.8 million in CARES Act funding.

Isanti County is willing to share some of those funds with small businesses, schools and housing.

The CARES Act provides assistance for state, local and tribal governments. Through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the CARES Act provides for payments to these entities navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following discussion, the board did approve a general plan for allocation of CARES relief dollars.

Of the $4.8 million, Lines explained $2.9 million would be used for county infrastructure, including personal protection equipment, information technology upgrades, public safety and payroll reimbursement.

$1 million would be designated for small business relief, with an additional $500,000 designated solely to nonprofits.

“And those are going to be in the form of grants; they’re not loans, they won’t need to be paid back,” Lines said. “Business and nonprofits that qualify will get up to the $10,000, and that money is to help them with reimbursed loss profit or loss of net revenue if they’re a nonprofit.”

Lines applauded the board for their efforts in supporting small businesses and nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it was great that the board focused in that area, because that’s different than a lot of the other relief efforts for businesses, which have been more focused on reimbursement for PPE, plexiglass and whatever else they purchased,” Lines said. “So the focus for us is more on the income loss or net profit loss.”

Lines explained there will be guidelines and different criteria associated with the small business relief and nonprofit relief. Applications can found on the county website and will be accepted Sept. 10 through Sept. 30.

As far as relief for public schools, Lines explained $300,000 has been set aside for reimbursement with technology needs or personal protective equipment.

She said she met with the superintendents from both of the public school districts in Isanti County, and everyone agreed the fair way to distribute the funds was based on total student count. Lines said Cambridge-Isanti Schools will receive $261,000, which is based on a student enrollment of 5,000; and Braham Area Schools will receive $39,000, which is based on a student enrollment of 750.

As for as the public, private and charter schools in Isanti County, Lines said those schools, as well as the Minnesota WorkForce Center in Cambridge, have asked the county to provide some personal protective equipment to them, so the county will work on providing those items to them as they are able.

Isanti County Emergency Management Director Mari DeLage Bostrom, said she received requests from Cambridge-Isanti Schools, Braham Area Schools, the Art and Science Academy and the Rum River Special Education Cooperative for personal protective equipment. Some of the requests included disposable masks and face shields for both adults and children, gowns, gloves and thermometers.

DeLage Bostrom said Isanti County Public Health does have masks in supply right now, so she will get the masks out to the schools as soon as possible and then work on restocking the county supply.

“If they need it, let’s get it to them,” said Commissioner Susan Morris. “It’s silly for it to be sitting down in our basement in a closet if people need it. If the schools need it, let’s get it to them.”

Morris encouraged DeLage Bostrom to give out as much personal protective equipment as she can that’s currently in stock within the county, and then replenish what is needed.

Lines mentioned the private schools and the charter school would also be able to apply for up to $10,000 through the nonprofit relief as well.

Lines explained the final piece of the $4.8 million includes $100,000 being set aside for individual housing needs. She explained these funds would be administered through Lakes and Pines. The funds would be given to individuals and families who have experienced a hardship directly related to COVID-19. Those wishing to apply for the housing funds need to apply directly through Lakes and Pines.

The funds could be used for basic needs including rental assurance, mortgage assistance, food, car loan payments, auto insurance, as well as support services.

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