McMinn County government is pondering potential uses for COVID relief money.
McMinn County Mayor John Gentry updated members of the McMinn County Commission at Monday night’s meeting about several outside revenue sources related to COVID-19. Gentry said the county Finance Committee will likely meet later this month to discuss its options related to the state and federal assistance.
The State of Tennessee allocated about $1.1 million to McMinn County for potential use in several areas, including COVID mitigation.
“Thankfully, they removed the strings that were originally attached to that money,” said Gentry of the statewide allocations to both cities and counties. “A lot of the cities and counties said, ‘Hey, we need some flexibility on this.’ We really don’t know what’s going to happen on the revenue side, especially a year down the road with what’s happening.”
The State of Tennessee also received a share of federal CARES Act money — a portion of which the state plans to allocate to local governments. McMinn County will receive just under $800,000 of this funding.
“This does have quite a few strings attached,” said Gentry. “It has to be spent prior to Dec. 30.”
Prior work already performed by the county, such as COVID preparation in McMinn County Courthouse offices, will now be funded from the CARES Act money. This funding will also be utilized to make technology upgrades at the courthouse.
“There’s still going to be a considerable balance that the Commission is going to have some authority over as far as how we need to allow that to go forward,” said Gentry.
The McMinn County Airport received $30,000 through the CARES Act, which Gentry said will be utilized, in part, to make various improvements to the airport terminal.
The state is also allocating $38,000 to McMinn County for tourism-related projects.
“Their theme is ‘stay-cation’ — trying to keep people to stay at home and promote things that are safe,” said Gentry.
He suggested a possible use for the tourism money could be improvements at the Bicentennial Park ballfields that would also allow for better social distancing.