With Nye County still in the midst of administering its CARES Act and COVID Relief Program grant programs and another round of several million dollars in relief funding coming from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, the Nye County Finance Department is now seeking to hire two new grants financial analysts in the coming weeks to help bear the immense workload associated with overseeing those funds.
During their Wednesday, Sept. 8 meeting, Nye County commissioners addressed an agenda item regarding the request to add two staff members to the finance team and Nye County Comptroller Savannah Rucker made it clear that these positions are not just something finance is desiring, they are a necessity.
“So the board is aware that we are still managing CARES as well as the CRP (COVID Relief Program) funding and this ARPA funding is another $9 million to administer. At this point in time, my current staffing levels cannot support additional programs,” Rucker told the board that morning. “In fact, we’re struggling with the current programs we have now.”
She noted that her team is responsible for providing oversight to the businesses and various entities that have applied to receive COVID grants from the county and the addition of two staffers would allow the current staff some breathing room when it comes to the administration of those funds. Putting it all on the table, Rucker remarked, “I am concerned that I may lose staff members if I don’t get some help. We have very taxed employees in our department who are dealing with unpleasant issues and we can only run so hard for so long, so that is why we are asking for help through ARPA and even potentially CARES and CRP to provide additional assistance through those programs. So it is my desperate plea to request some assistance.”
While the county has yet to determine its ARPA grants policy, Rucker said she felt it was important to get ahead of the ball by starting on the process of finding applicants, which she noted can be difficult for these types of positions. It was also made clear that morning that the two new positions would not be funded by taxpayer dollars. Instead, the $160,000 for the two positions would come directly out of the ARPA funding the county receives.
Commission chair Debra Strickland said she too would like to see additional staffers in the finance department, particularly in light of the fact that county grant administrator Samantha Kramer was already quite busy with securing regular grants prior to the county receiving COVID relief monies. “I would also like to point out that this staffing would be funded solely by the (COVID) grants themselves and the employment would be attached to those grants, so they would be paid for by the grants themselves,” she reiterated.
Rucker said the county has already received its first tranche of money from ARPA, totaling $4.5 million and the policy for administering that funding is being drafted. She expects that policy to be ready for board consideration in early October but in the meantime, she would like to get the new staffers on board and ready to go as soon as the ARPA policy is set and applications from members of the community start rolling in.
“Even if, best case, we fill the positions on the requested date of Sept. 27, that would give those positions a week to get familiar with our system before we are dealing with policy and potential applications shortly thereafter the policy is approved,” Rucker noted.
Commissioner Leo Blundo asked what would happen with the positions after all of the COVID relief funding was gone. “Is there an ability or a necessity or can you find enough grants to justify these two positions outside of that (ARPA funds)?” He queried.
Rucker said that was definitely a possibility and Blundo then noted that if the two positions were to cost $160,000 in total, the county could see a great rate of return if those staffers were to then be able to secure hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in grants for the county.
“I’m looking long term, will we continue those positions to continue generating grants for the county? That’s what I’m looking for. We have an opportunity to start them off now and then they will be able to continue on (by bringing in additional grant funding),” Blundo stated.
Rucker said yes, that was certainly something the county could look at doing in the future.
Commissioner Bruce Jabbour added that he definitely did not want to see county finance staff burn out because they are overwhelmed, so he too felt that hiring additional people would be prudent. He then made the motion to approve the request for two additional full-time positions for the Nye County Finance Department, to be funded by COVID grant monies. That motion passed with all in favor.
Anyone interested in applying for one of the two positions should keep an eye out for the official announcement that the application process has been opened. That announcement will appear on the county website at www.NyeCounty.net as well as in a future edition of the Pahrump Valley Times.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com