NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - From gallons of hand sanitizer a month to providing partitions for county offices and courtrooms, COVID-19 expenses can add up fast.
Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding will definitely help.
“We have a ceiling up to $1.6 million,” said Nacogdoches County Judge Greg Sowell.
There’s no cost-sharing like most other federal grants. County commissioners are set on Tuesday to give the judge authority to apply. The first draw is about $320,000.
“We are able to draw cash up to 20 percent of that amount and hold it,” Sowell said.
The judge wants a reserve to cover potential payroll expenses should a virus outbreak occur among essential employees, such as law enforcement.
“We’re trying to anticipate what will happen the rest of this year and it’s hard to predict,” Sowell said.
There was no way of knowing the office of County Clerk June Clifton’s would reopen today after an unexpected closure.
“We did have to close for a week because we had someone who tested positive in the office, but we’re back today full-time, full-staff,” Clifton said. “We were working from home and keeping everything going.”
Glass partitions for county and district clerk offices are on backorder. Then there's the expense of adapting courtrooms.
“We’re trying to make arrangements to how are we going to keep a jury safe if we bring juries in whenever the Office of the Court Administration says we can,” Sowell said. “How are we going to keep in-person hearings safe? We’re looking at, again, a lot of plexiglass and shields here.”
Sowell is pleased the federal funding is fast cash with some entities receiving deposits the same day the application is submitted.