The Giles County Commission’s Property Committee has given County Executive Melissa Greene the authority to find ways for the county to receive and use CARES Act funding from the state.

Giles County has been approved for $442,000 in CARES Act funding related to the recent economic shut down.

Greene said while offering the CARES Act makes state officials look good, trying to find ways to meet the ever changing requirements of the CARES Act has proven to be much more difficult.

“The stipulations are pretty ridiculous and the requirements are changing daily,” Greene told the committee.

To be reimbursed by the CARES Act county government projects must be COVID related.

To meet that requirement, Greene made a proposal to the Property Committee and later to the commission’s Budget Committee that she hopes will be approved by the state.

She proposed the county buy the old Schwann’s building on Highway 31 North for $212,000 and convert it for use by the Giles County Office of Emergency Management. Everything COVID related in Giles County goes through the OEM office, Greene explained, including supplies that are now piling up in the current OEM office on Cedar Lane.

The proposed building has almost twice as much space and has four garage bays, which would allow OEM to put their trailers inside rather than leaving them outside like at their current location. The extra space would be used to house the overflowing amount of supplies OEM continues to receive.

Greene’s proposal came with a couple of contingencies. First, the purchase of the building would have to be approved for CARES Act reimbursement by the state or the idea would not be pursued any further, she said. Second, the office area of the building is in need of extensive renovation that Greene said is estimated around $220,000. The renovation cost would not be covered by the CARES Act.

Greene recommended, if the county commission agrees, that the renovations costs could come from the county’s Hotel/Motel tax fund.

The upside for the county is more space for offices and storage, which is dwindling rapidly, according to Greene.

A cascade of possibilities open up from there, with Greene explaining how many of the county’s offices could be upgraded and moved into better, more functional places with the one move of buying the building for OEM.

“We need to start doing some work,” she said. “We’ve got our people working in really not the best conditions. They’ve literally got stuff stuffed all around them. We’ve got to do some improvements.”

The Property Committee gave Greene its approval to go forward with whatever she needs to obtain the CARES Act grant, even if the purchase of the building cannot be pursued.

The Budget Committee unanimously gave its recommendation to the full commission for $212,000 to buy the building and $190,000 to buy an ambulance. Greene suggested the remainder of the CARES Act funds be used to pay county employees hazard pay for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the money has to be spent from county funds and then be reimbursed, the expenditures will have to be approved by the full county commission, which is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at the Giles County Courthouse.

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