REED CITY -- The Osceola County Board of Commissioners approved applications for two separate CARES Act grants for reimbursement of COVID-19 expenditures at its recent meeting.

The board approved the application for the CARES Public Safety and Public Health Payroll Reimbursement grant.

The state is making these funds available for reimbursement of direct payroll costs, including base payroll, fringe benefits and overtime, of public health and public safety personnel.

They county is applying for the funds on behalf of the Sheriff's Department, the Department of Emergency Management and the Emergency Medical Services department.

"The CARES Act for payroll and fringe benefits for April and May was submitted last week," County Coordinator Susan VanderPol said at the July 21 meeting. "I am asking that the board accept the application."

Eligible expenditures include public safety and public health payroll expenditures that have not or will not be reimbursed under the First Responder Hazard Pay Premiums Program or by any other federal funds.

For the program, the entire payroll cost of an employee whose time is substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency is eligible, provided that such payroll costs are incurred in April and May 2020 for the first round of the program; and in June and July 2020 for the second round of the program.

An employer may also track time spent by employees related to COVID-19 and apply for fund payments on that basis but would need to do so consistently within the relevant agency or department.

The Public Safety April payroll amount requested for reimbursement by the county totals $126,207. The May amount totals $256,828.

The Public Health April payroll amount requested for reimbursement totals $84,692, and the May amount totals $164,230.

The board also approved an hourly stipend of $5 per hour for eligible employees for hours worked in April and May, up to $1,000 under the CARES First Responder Hazard Pay Premium grant.

"Essential public safety employees are eligible for up to $1,000 additional coronavirus compensation under the Premium Pay grant," VanderPol said. "The two departments most effected would be Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services.

"The proposal before the board is for hours worked in April and May, that there be a stipend of $5 per hour up to the maximum of $1,000," she said.

EMS director Jeremy Bebee told the board after looking at the grant application, he felt that it needed to be consistent with both agencies so the they are not providing benefit to one and not to the other.

"We felt like the $5 per hour stipend would be fair to employees," Bebee said. "A lot will receive the maximum, while those that work fewer hours would still receive some compensation, but not as much as those that worked more hours."

The board unanimously approved the grant application.

The board will meet virtually at 9:30 a.m., Aug. 4.

For information on how to access the virtual meeting visit Osceola-county.org or call (231) 832-3261.