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Commission keeps the people

in mind in allocation of

coronavrus findings

 

11-5-2020

 

Like local governments across the country, Sanpete County has received, or is due to receive, a substantial sum from the federal government in coronavirus relief money. The county has received about $2 million so far and expects to get another $1 million.

The county commission could have spent the money for all kinds of things in county government. Instead, commissioners are spending the money in ways that benefit the people of the county, including organizations and businesses most affected by the coronavirus.

Shortly after receiving the first $2 million, the county spent just $20,000 installing sneeze guards and remodeling some counters in the county courthouse to protect employees and the public from exposure to the virus.

Meanwhile, it launched the Sanpete COVID-19 Business Grant Program for businesses, such as restaurants, that can document a significant drop in revenues because of the coronavirus crisis.

About 30 businesses have applied for the program, and commissioners are beginning to divvy out about $300,000 to some of the people in the county who have truly suffered.

In mid October, representatives from a couple of ambulance companies appeared before the commission and requested $750,000 in coronavirus money for new ambulances. The representatives conceded that $750,000 was a “big ask.” The commission tabled the request.

But within the past couple of weeks, the commissioners, in consultation with Tom Peterson, the county fire warden, and two local fire chiefs, have put together a bigger and more ecumenical package.

The commission decided to give $280,000 to each of the four ambulance companies in the county—the North Sanpete, Ephraim, Manti and Gunnison Valley groups.

The commission asked each of the companies to add 10 percent of that amount from their own funds so they would have “some skin in the game.”

That would bring the total to about $308,000 per company or something in the neighborhood of $1.2 million total.

The money is a way of saying “thank you” to people who do the training to become EMTs and then volunteer their time to respond to neighbors in need. Recently, that has included transporting patients who have COVID-19 and are experiencing severe symptoms to hospitals in Utah and Salt Lake counties.

Some of the companies will be able to dedicate one ambulance to coronavirus patients and use a different ambulance for other patients.

The other part of the package is providing $6,800 apiece for eight self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units. Those will go to volunteer fire departments around the county.

SBCAs enable firefighters to breathe in environments filled with smoke or toxic fumes. The units have a 20-year shelf life, and after they expire, they can’t be legally used. Several fire departments don’t have enough SBCAs or have expired units that need to be replaced.

The county was able to negotiate a bulk purchase agreement, which brought the cost of each SCBA down from $8,500 to $6,800. Some fire departments plan to buy additional units out of their own budgets at the bulk price.

Adding in the 10 percent fire departments will add to the county grants, money available for the essential SCBA units will come to just under $60,000.

It all ads up to more than $1.29 million for emergency equipment that in the long run benefits all of us, plus the $300,000 to businesses. Thank you, commissioners, for putting your constituents first.