Oklahoma Co. commissioners approve CARES Act grant program in 2-1 vote

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In a 2-1 vote on Monday, the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners approved allocating $15 million of the county’s CARES Act funds to a grant program that will help businesses and nonprofits that are struggling during the pandemic. 

“The jail benefits every single person in this county because it provides critical public safety,” Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey, District 3, said during Monday’s BOCC meeting. 

That speech comes after a vote by the county’s jail trust to send roughly $25 million of the county’s federal CARES Act dollars, that they couldn’t spend by the December 30th deadline, back to the county. 

Last week, the budget board voted to allocate $15 million of those funds to a grant program for businesses and nonprofits struggling during the pandemic.  

“We need more money to nonprofits,” Marnie Taylor, a citizen, told the board during public comment. 

The item then was put on Monday’s BOCC agenda for final approval. 

“I think this is the time to get down to the bottom line and that is to vote today,” Annette Basey said. 

The item passed 2-1, with only Commissioner Calvey voting no. 

“We have basically botched an opportunity to get more money to do our critical function of the jail,” Calvey said at the end of the meeting.

“I’m very happy that we voted today for our small business and nonprofit programs,”​ Commissioner Carrie Blumert, District 1, said. 

The Oklahoma Industries Authority, the OIA, already has 300 potential applicants. They are businesses and nonprofits outside of Oklahoma City, within Oklahoma County, that did not qualify for the city’s similar program. 

“They’ll have to reapply, but they’re going to invite them to do that. So they don’t have to just know about this on their own, they’re going to be proactively contacted by the OIA and asked to submit an application,” Commissioner Brian Maughan, District 2, said. “We’ve spent two thirds of this on public health and safety measures and this is one third for economic development, if it’s evenly utilized.”

The applications have to be in by December 9th. Officials with the OIA said the website where people can apply should be ready by the end of the week.

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