County has spent 95% of federal funds

LIHU‘E — As the county continues to work through its federal allotment of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money, unused funds originally committed are being put toward contingency plans.

In January, the county spent about $1.722 million, which brings the total amount spent to about 95.5% of the original $28,715,551, according to a report to the state dated Feb. 8.

In the last report that covered December, the county had expended about 96.1%.

County Project Manager and Compliance Officer Nicholas Courson explained the difference is because unused funds budgeted out to nonprofits or other entities were given back to the county at the end of last year.

“There will likely be more of these sorts of adjustments in the future as we consolidate funds,” Courson said.

Some nonprofit groups returning unspent money include Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity for its mental-health counseling for the homeless, and from Kupu for its natural-resource management entry-level job training program, Courson said.

While the federal government extended the use of these funds through the end of 2021, the county still required grantees to wrap up use by the end of last year.

Another chunk of unused funds came from the expiration of the county’s mental-health-counseling partnership with Worklife Hawai‘i, Courson explained.

The county contracted with the nonprofit to provide free counseling to Kaua‘i residents experiencing tough times. This was mostly advertised in December as the holidays approached.

The county had allocated $100,000 for the service with WorkLife Hawai‘i, a division of Child &Family Service, a private, nonprofit agency that has been providing counseling and social services to Hawai‘i’s families since 1899.

Unused funds will be put into the county’s administrative budget, which is where the contingency account sits. That money, Courson said, would be used in public-safety efforts.

“The current plan for unexpended CARES Act funds is to use them to fund the airport checkpoint, COVID-related public-safety messaging, and CARES-Act compliance costs,” Courson said.

The county has a remaining balance of about $1.296 million, with about $1.119 encumbered currently, mostly for public-safety efforts.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.