ST. GEORGE — In the coming weeks, Dorchester County will have half of its $31 million allocation of federal stimulus funds at its disposal for COVID-19 recovery.
The money is part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the coronavirus relief package enacted when President Joe Biden signed the congressional bill March 11.
During an April 5 County Council meeting, Daniel Prentice, the county’s deputy administrator and CFO, touched on some of the possibilities the funding could cover.
The uses range from putting on vaccine clinics to supporting local tourism, nonprofits or hospitality entities that suffered as a result of the pandemic.
The funds can also be used on other projects, such as supporting water, sewer and broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the county.
“There’s not really any reporting guidelines,” Prentice said.
Because of this, he said, they’re also waiting for additional guidelines before finalizing any decisions on how the money will be used. All of the funds received under the act will have to be spent by Dec. 31, 2024.
Under the program, all municipalities are slated to receive funding based on population. South Carolina counties will receive around $1 billion.
In the tri-county area, Dorchester is slated to receive the smallest amount in funding based on its population size. Berkeley County is expected to receive more than $44 million, with Charleston getting nearly $80 million.
This is after Dorchester missed out on funding from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Dorchester County had an estimated population of 165,000 in 2020; to qualify for that program it needed at least 200,000 people.
The funds will be distributed to Dorchester County in two installments. The first will be for around $15 million. Prentice said they can expect to receive that money in the next 30 to 45 days. The rest of the money will be received a full year from that point.
Some Dorchester County officials are apprehensive about using the money. Councilman Jay Byars said he wants a walk through all of the details of how the money will be used. To him, using the federal money excessively will increase the country’s financial burden on his children in the future. He said he doesn’t want to spend the funds just to make a deadline.
“I don’t want this to become a Christmas shopping list,” he said.
Reach Jerrel Floyd at 843-937-5558. Follow him on Twitter @jfloyd134.