Dear Editor: 

I have received calls and feedback regarding an article in the Aug. 20 Savanna Times-Journal about the $126,000 the City of Savanna has received from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

This money is to reimburse the city for expenses due to changes in the way we have had to do business because of Covid-19. This is a reimbursement program and not just a lump sum that was given to the city. We have to submit the invoices and have them approved to be paid back.

The guidelines of what can be included are very strict. And some of the feedback I have gotten is this money should be given to the community. Or to the children at school. And as much as I would love to do that, it is not allowed under the program. There are other programs out there to help counties provide testing and help for rent, food and mortgages. This is specifically for municipalities. And it does not cover budget shortfalls.

We will be purchasing laptops for employees to be able to work from home if we are shut down again, as well as cloud-based software to allow remote access. Purchasing more PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) as well as being reimbursed for the PPE already bought. And new radios for the police department so they can better communicate with the county and the state.

We are still considering other items as well. Following is a list I was given of items that would be reimbursable through this program. Potentially reimbursable expenses:

•Laptops, wireless hotspots and headsets for staff.

•Firewalls and virtual private network hardware that facilitate remote access to local government networks.

•Installation of touchless faucets, toilets, dispensers in municipal buildings, park facilities, etc.

•Remote/wireless monitoring (of utilities, etc.)

•Some types of HVAC upgrades (such as UV lights, higher MERV filters, retro commissioning).

•Keyless/fob entry systems.

•Handicapped door access buttons or sensors.

•Drop boxes and/or drive-thru windows.

•Cleaning/sanitation services for municipal buildings and park facilities.

•PPE and hand sanitizer.

•Emergency signage and digital displays.

•Resident or employee emergency/public health notification system.

Previously unbudgeted expenses related to necessary Covid-19 response/recovery purchases may be incurred until Dec. 30.

Even if you have yet to spend on supplies, equipment, services, etc. related to response and recovery, there is no reason not to consider expending funds on projects (again, see ideas above) that can be reimbursed up to your community's allotted amount.

Mayor Chris Lain