The Brookhaven City Council approved technology purchases and partnership contracts Oct. 13 as its first move since receiving federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The city received $6.3 million in COVID-19 Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds from DeKalb County. A dispute about the city’s tax abatement and annexation policies caused some delays in getting those funds. The city created a plan for the funds at a Sept. 22 council meeting and had contracts ready for council two weeks later.

Mayor John Ernst thanked the staff for the quick turnaround and said he’s excited to see the money going toward residents.

“This is one of the most comprehensive relief acts that I’ve seen from other cities around,” Ernst said in the meeting. “A lot of money is going out to people in need.”

The council plans for about $998,000 to go to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta medical expenses; $559,000 toward facility sanitization, infrastructure updates and personal protective equipment; $1.85 million toward salary and benefits for the city police department; $700,000 for technology updates; and $100,000 for commercial business support.

Replacement laptops for city staff and replacement Toughbooks for police cars were approved Oct. 13 for about $235,000. The city also allocated about $331,000 for emergency operations displays in the new public safety building near the trailhead for the Peachtree Creek Greenway, which is still under construction.

Spokesperson Burke Brennan said the emergency displays will help “facilitate information during an emergency response,” such as another pandemic or other natural disasters.

The council also signed off on six contracts: one with the YMCA for $85,000; Children’s Healthcare for $998,000; St. Vincent DePaul for $725,000; the Latin American Association for $25,000; the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce for $100,000; and Georgia Power for $1.5 million.

Partnerships with the YMCA and the LAA aim to provide food for residents in need, according to the contracts. The partnership with St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic charity, will help administer rent and some utility funds for people affected by the pandemic. The contract with Georgia Power will provide electricity bill payments to residents who are behind because of the pandemic.

Money to the Chamber of Commerce will go toward helping businesses with increased sanitization and promotion.

“Hopefully within the next seven to 10 days, we can get this CARES Act money out the door and to the citizens who need it most,” Steve Chapman, the city’s chief financial officer, told the council.

Chapman said in the Sept. 23 meeting that partnering with nonprofit organizations helps the city find people who need food, rent or utility assistance.

A previous version of the city’s plan for the CARES Act fund had about $1 million going toward the city’s tourism bureau for business promotion advertisements and two city monument signs intended for branding purposes. The council reallocated that $1 million to the rent and utility relief because council members said that served a greater community need. About $2.1 million of the city’s $6.3 million in CARES Act money is set aside for rent and utility relief.

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