Towns Outline CARES Act Spending Plans

Loudoun’s seven towns have all been hit by the coronavirus crisis—some worse than others, with more than $1 million in expected budget shortfalls this year. Still, they’re maintaining daily operations for residents and striving to support local businesses. And now, they’re getting some help from the federal government.

In late March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which set up a $150 billion relief fund to assist state, local, territorial and tribal governments. Of that amount, Virginia received $3.1 billion, about $36.1 million of which has gone to Loudoun County to be spent on one-time uses directly associated with response to the COVID-19 pandemic between March 1 and Dec. 30. Of that amount, the county is distributing about $6.1 million to Loudoun’s seven towns, with funding amounts based on town populations.

Those towns have either approved, or will soon approve, plans detailing how they will use their shares of that funding.

Hamilton

The 630-resident Town of Hamilton will receive $56,496, or 0.16 percent of the county’s overall allocation.

The Town Council June 8 voted on a spending plan that will pay for a hand washing station at the Hamilton Community Park and a video system to record Town Council meetings. Mayor Dave Simpson said if the town has funds left over, it would consider ways to help feed families in need and support in-town businesses.

Hillsboro

Hillsboro—Loudoun’s smallest town with a population of 170 residents—will get $15,125 in CARES Act funding, or 0.04 percent of the county’s overall allocation.

Mayor Roger Vance and Vice Mayor Amy Marasco are expected to present a proposed spending plan to the Town Council on June 16 that could see the town use its share of funding to pay for cleaning supplies for the Old Stone School and for residents. Marasco said the town would also look at implementing a food voucher program for residents to get pre-paid meals at the Moo Thru ice cream truck, the Stoneybrook Farm Market and the Hill Tom Market.

Marasco said that if the town has any money left over after covering those initiatives, it might explore issuing grants to in-town businesses, installing permanent hand sanitizer stations and perhaps upgrading parts of the Old Stone School kitchen—since, Marasco said, studies have shown that the coronavirus might live longer on stainless steel surfaces.

Leesburg

Leesburg—the largest town in Virginia, with 54,000 residents—will receive the largest portion of CARES Act funding among Loudoun towns. It will receive about $4.8 million, or 13.3 percent of the county’s overall allocation.

The Town Council June 9 voted to use a little more than $3 million of that to provide grants for in-town businesses that have experienced at least a 25-percent or greater decline in sales, have 0-50 employees and are in good standing with the town as of March 1; $1 million to support nonprofits that serve the community; and a little less than $800,000 to pay for town government expenses related to the pandemic.

“We’re excited to be able to do that,” said Mayor Kelly Burk.

Lovettsville

The 2,200-resident Town of Lovettsville is set to receive $187,372 in CARES Act funding—0.52-percent of the county’s overall allocation.

The Town Council May 28 voted to use $88,500 to set up a business interruption fund; $45,000 to continue providing residents with essential services; $30,000 to donate to nonprofits supporting “life-sustaining services,” such as food banks; $18,872 to pay for COVID-19-related expenses, like cleaning supplies, legal fees and technology to enable teleworking capabilities; and $5,000 to help the Lovettsville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company pay for personal protective equipment.

Middleburg

The 835-resident Town of Middleburg will receive $74,824 in CARES Act funding, or 0.21-percent of the county’s overall allocation.

The Middleburg Town Council May 28 voted to authorize Town Administrator Danny Davis to use those funds to help pay for the multiple business financial relief programs the council approved in March and April.

Those programs gave restaurants more time to remit money collected via the town’s 4-percent meals tax, contributed $16,750 to three area nonprofits, mailed 13 $20 meal vouchers to all 430 in-town households and reimbursed businesses for half the amount of their mark-down prices during sales. All told, the town has spent about $350,000 on those initiatives.

“[Those programs] cost way more than $74,000,” Davis said. “We might as well pay ourselves back for the expenses that we’ve already incurred.”

Purcellville

Purcellville—western Loudoun’s largest town, with a population of about 10,200 residents—will get $891,932 in CARES Act funding, or 2.47-percent of the county’s overall allocation.

The Town Council on June 9 voted to approve a spending plan that includes $534,632 to support businesses, $223,300 to pay for town government expenses, $89,000 to support nonprofits and $45,000 to stash away in town reserves.

Round Hill

The 660-resident Town of Round Hill will receive $59,077 in CARES Act funding, or 0.16 percent of the county’s overall allocation.

The Town Council June 3 voted to approve a spending plan that will use $15,000 of that amount to award grants to the 30 in-town businesses with valid licenses, and the remainder to pay for costs the town plans to incur while operating amid the pandemic.

Conditions on Spending

According to Loudoun Department of Finance and Budget Assistant Director Megan Bourke, the towns must spend their funds on expenses “that are necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic.” If a town decides to distribute its funds to other entities, “there must be a clear nexus between the pandemic and the purpose of the expenditure.”

Marty Kloeden, Purcellville’s grant and insurance coordinator, noted that one of the unique conditions of CARES Act funding is that towns get to keep any assets they purchase with the money, such as barricades to divide outdoor dining areas.

Towns can’t use the funds to compensate for a loss of revenue; to pay for capital improvement projects, unless they’re performed to address the pandemic; to pay for damages already covered by insurance; or to cover payroll costs or benefit expenses for employees who aren’t “substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 emergency,” according to the U.S. Treasury.

All towns are required to submit a mid-cycle report to the county by Sept. 1 that includes an updated spending plan and financial report detailing how the funds have been spent, along with an explanation of how they comply with federal conditions. The towns are required to submit a final report to the county on Jan. 8, 2021. At that time, the towns must also return to the federal government any funds they did not spend by Dec. 30.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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