FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

County Manager briefs BOCC on Small Business Assistance Grants and Rental and Mortgage Assistance

By Cindy Jackson
Reporter
September 2, 2020

Whereas the Board of County Commissioners meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 6:00 pm and the third Wednesday of each month at 9am, the body must also meet every seven days to extend the State of Emergency declared as a result of COVID-19. The first such declaration took place by Executive Order #19 on March 18th, 2020.

The most recent such meeting occurred on the morning of September 2, 2020. It lasted just 15 minutes.

County Manager Taco Pope

That meeting, however, marked the first official gathering with Taco Pope as County Manager. Mr. Pope is the former Director of the Department of Planning and Economic Opportunity. Pope gave an update on the Nassau CARES (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) programs.

Pope first reported on the Nassau County’s Small Business Assistance Grant Program stating that the County is now on its second round of grant awards. Pope announced that during the first round, the approval rate was 85% and the 62 approved have been notified and checks should be received later this week or early next week. The few that were not approved, as Pope explained, were a result of ineligibility or incomplete applications with just two being under legal review.

County Manager Pope spoke of the emails and phone calls received from small businesses in the County as being “quite emotional” and that the businesses are “extremely appreciative.” He congratulated the BOCC on its “strong leadership and them (the businesses) for being successful.”

“By and large,” continued Pope, “85% of the people who asked, have received.” The cap for grant awards was 220 businesses and at the present time, it looks like the County will be making 191 total grants.

The second round closed but witnessed 118 applications submitted. The hope, said Pope, “is that the approval rate will be similar – pushing toward 90%.”

County Manager Pope also gave a briefing on the (individual) Rental and Mortgage Assistance program. Thus far, 86 applications have been received and are currently being reviewed. Money for 102 individual rental or mortgage assistance grants had been budgeted. Pope said those monies “will start moving in the coming weeks. “

In closing, said Mr. Pope, “By and large, we have been pretty successful in terms of reaching our goals in the numbers we wanted to reach.”

Before adjourning, Pope also asked the BOCC to approve a special meeting to approve the American Beach Water and Wastewater Facility Plan. The BOCC recently gave its unanimous support for the creation of a special district to facilitate that plan. That meeting will be held on September 23, 2020 at 9am.

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