Requests for federal relief funds in Knox County outweigh the available pool

Knox County Commissioners received more than $ 13.1 million in requests from cities and local organizations for part of the $ 7.7 million in federal relief funds the county received.

Commissioners have yet to set a final timeline for reviewing the funding proposals, which began to come forward earlier this summer, although the process may begin soon. The deadline for proposals was August 31.

Commissioners are reviewing applications individually before their Oct. 12 meeting, where they will discuss priorities and potentially determine which cities or organizations they would like to meet, according to Knox County Administrator Andrew Hart.

Counties in Maine are in the process of determining how to spend the relief funds they received from the U.S. federal stimulus law, which was intended to help local governments recover from pandemic-related losses and promote economic recovery.

Knox County Commissioners only took action by committing about $ 500,000 of the $ 7.7 million for retention bonuses for Knox County Jail employees, County Sheriff’s Office of Knox and the Knox County Regional Communications Center.

In addition to the $ 13,118,706 million in requests from cities and organizations, county departments also identified $ 3.9 million in potential uses for relief funding. Hart said the department’s list of requests could change as he is still awaiting additional information. Commissioners have yet to decide whether the department’s demands will be prioritized over those from cities and organizations, according to Hart.

Across the department’s demands is a $ 1.5 million proposal from the director of the Knox County Emergency Management Agency to establish a program that would provide bonuses to private sector employees who were considered as essential during the pandemic, such as grocery stores, daycares and healthcare workers. .

Among the most significant proposals considered by the commissioners is a request for $ 4.1 million that would fund a list of affordable housing projects pursued by the Knox County Homeless Coalition and multiple partners, including Habitat for Humanity and Isle Au Haut. Community Development Cooperation.

A regional broadband group had originally announced that it would apply for the bulk of the $ 7.7 million to fund a community-owned broadband internet network in the Knox County area. But the Midcoast Internet Development Corporation has instead filed a more modest request for $ 750,000 in partnership with the town of Rockport. This $ 750,000 would be used as seed capital for the first phase of the project, which would begin to develop the network in Rockport.

The town of Vinalhaven is also asking the county for funds to invest in broadband. The island community has requested around $ 1 million to expand broadband to 187 homes. Vinalhaven is also seeking funding for workforce housing on the island, upgrades to sewer infrastructure and $ 1 million for a county-wide flood map review.

Other significant requests include a joint $ 1.2 million proposal from the Town of Thomaston and the Knox Health Clinic for investments in county health services, and a $ 940,000 request from the Town of Isle Au Haut for investments in affordable housing, broadband and infrastructure.

In total, the Commissioners received approximately 35 separate funding applications from nearly every city in Knox County and approximately 10 local organizations.

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