Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said Tuesday that he has submitted emergency legislation to reallocate $6.5 million in county funds to aid businesses and residents that are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In June the county received $56.8 million in pandemic relief funds from the federal government and $44.1 million of those funds have already been appropriated to the county’s government.
“In this critical moment when our local businesses and most vulnerable residents need our support quickly, we have pre-filed emergency budget legislation to immediately provide an additional $6.5 million from county funding for critical pandemic assistance resources,” Ball said in an online press gaggle in which he was accompanied by other high-ranking county officials.
Ball added: “This includes $2 million for the Howard County Economic Development Authority to issue additional grants and low interest loans, $1 million for Howard County General Hospital to continue to create infrastructure for additional ICU and bed capacity, $1 million in housing assistance to prevent evictions and foreclosures, $1 million for food and utility bill assistance, and $1.5 million for the extension of vital educational support and child care programs.”
Ball said that while the recent congressional passage of a $900 billion stimulus package is a positive development-it is simply not enough.
“While we encouraged that Congress is acting to extend the CARES Act spending deadline, the recent congressional relief package provides no additional funding for state and local governments as we prepare for a winter surge.”
Nevertheless, Ball said he is optimistic about the future.
“Despite the challenges we know that we will get through this. And it is through our collective action, compassion and continued dedication that we will be successful.”
Larry Twele, who is CEO of the county’s Economic Development Authority, said the reallocated funds will provide crucial assistance to local businesses.
“These funds will provide assistance to our neighbors in the community who operate these small businesses-who provide the necessary goods and services we all need both now and after the pandemic is over.”
Kelly Cimino, who is the director of the county’s Department of Housing, said the funds will help prevent evictions and foreclosures.
“This funding will be used to provide up to six months of rental assistance for another 400 families. While the CDC recently extended the moratorium on evictions until January 31, rent payments are still accruing. And our families will need to have funds to pay them when the moratorium expires. And home owners that have declined on their mortgage payments will also need assistance when the governor’s moratorium on foreclosures also expires on January 31.”
There are 255,397 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 5,353 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 7.47%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted almost 5.4 million COVID-19 tests.
Howard County has 10,284 cases of COVID-19. The county’s positivity rate is at 5.24%.