Oak Harbor spent $1.1 million of CARES Act money last year

The city’s single most expensive purchase was a modular building for engineering staff.

The City of Oak Harbor spent roughly $1.1 million of its CARES Act funds last year, leaving just over $297,000 on the table, according to a staff presentation at a Jan. 27 council workshop.

Most of the money was spent on the city’s COVID-19 related expenses. The city spent $675,521.76 on telework capabilities, cleaning supplies, Plexiglass for offices and a modular building for engineering staff.

The city spent almost all of the money it awarded to itself and left about $13,000 unspent.

To be eligible for CARES Act funds, an expense had to be connected to the COVID-19 emergency, had to be necessary, could not fulfill a shortfall in government revenues and could not be funded through another budget as of March 27.

Only expenses that existed because of the pandemic were allowed.

Expenses incurred from March 27 through Nov. 30 were eligible for CARES Act funds. Finance Director David Goldman said he had asked the state Department of Commerce if the deadline would be extended but had not yet heard back.

A modular building for engineering staff accounted for the biggest expenditure for a budgeted $315,000. The city council approved the purchase in October. Staff said the building was necessary to provide more office space and social distancing.

Staff broke the spending down into categories.

The city spent $416,497.02 in a category that included the new building and such public safety measures as Plexiglass and floor markings in city hall and the senior center.

The city spent $148,944.47 on telework capabilities, including 27 Microsoft Surface tablets, 54 webcams and two virtual private network servers, according to Central Services Supervisor Sandra Place.

It spent $75,170.93 on personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, gloves, and cleaning supplies for staff and facilities.

“It was like Black Friday shopping, I’ll tell you,” Place said. “Everyday we were checking to find out what we could get, and whoever got there first got it.”

It also spent $26,124.60 on two software programs. One is CivicRec, a virtual parks and recreation activity management tool, and the other is Zencity, a $15,000 tool to measure public opinion.

The city also accounted for staff hours related to the public health crisis.

The city spent $1,616.28 in finance staff hours and $7,168.46 of public safety staff dedicated to COVID-19.

Besides expenses at city hall, the city’s CARES Act funds also went to the North Whidbey Island Small Business Relief program.

The program was awarded more than $711,000 of the city’s funds, but only $426,946.75 was spent.

A total of 83 businesses applied for the relief, but 20 did not receive any funds. Public Information Officer Sabrina Combs said that some businesses were disqualified, withdrew applications or went out of business.

The city also spent $40,860 on personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and signage that it gave out to about 20 businesses, Combs said.

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