CARE Acts funds made available

CONEJOS — At the most recent meeting of the Conejos Board of County Commissioners, Tressesa Martinez, county administrator, stated that the CARE Acts Funds have been made available.

Conejos County received more than $700,000 that they can utilize. La Jara Town Administrator Larry Zaragoza and Antonito Mayor Aaron Abeyta are going to opt in with the county.    Manassa is also opting in and the county has not heard from Romeo.

Those dollars can only be spent for COVID-19 expenses. The municipalities or the county must pay up front and then ask for a reimbursement.

Martinez said there are a bunchof guidelines that they need to follow. A committee must be formed so they may review and understand all the guidelines.

County Attorney Nick Sarmiento is working on the agreement; we have to decide the amount that is going to the municipalities. Martinez has contacted the funding source to see if one of the municipalities doesn't use that money can it beswitched to another municipality.The dollars have tobe spent by Dec. 30.

Chairman Mitch Jarvies said we know that it has to be COVID-related, but are they expenses that the towns incurred or is it businesses that lost money? Can they apply?

Martinez she has asked the municipalities to run in whatever expenses they have to this point, and then they will decide what dollars they are going to get. “It seems that some of the guidelines include giving money to businesses, pay rents,etc.”

County Attorney Sarmiento said Conejos County will act as the fiscal agent; make sure that what the municipalities ask for reimbursements are eligible funds; we have to meet the criteria.

Comm. Steve McCarroll asked who decides if it is COVID.

Martinez mentioned that the restaurants were COVID related. She also talked to Nick Barela-DSS director. He will go through a list because there were some people that haven't been able to pay rent but they have to prove that it is COVID related.

Sarmiento stated that the board will make that decision, we will be strict on the guidelines.

Zaragoza said he appreciates the county reaching out to the municipalities. A lot of people got behind on water and sewer which were set up on a payment plan, a lot were businesses and some people were laid off.

Abeyta said a lot of people were laid off due to the COVID and for some it was survival such as feeding the family or paying your water and sewer. A lot of them were businesses. They are working with them on setting up payments. Antonito has some grants which would be for District #1 in the amount of $25,000. If a family has a garden then they can get that. We are always behind on how things affect us.

He feels it is advantageous that the money is disbursed through December disbursed through December and not allatonce.   

He would encourage the Board to distribute evenly based on population and be consistent.

Barela said they did received a maximum allotment from SNAP and talked about every eligible student being able to receive $246.00 for lunch.

Abeyta stated that it is good and essential to work together and we can have meetings like these. He had a question concerning the train because it involves two states. They do employ so many people from Antonito, how would that work, how do we address the railroad?


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