The city of Lewisville will receive $5.8 million in CARES Act funding to cover expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City Council on Monday approved an interlocal agreement with Denton County for the acceptance of the funds. The money is distributed through the county based on a $55 per capita formula.
City officials said the money can be used to mitigate for the expenses from public safety salaries from March 18 to May 26, which totals $6.8 million. Since the expenses exceed the CARES Act funding amount, Lewisville is eligible to keep all of the money. For now the money will remain in a city fund until it’s determined how to use it.
In addition to CARES Act funding, the city is also expected to receive $452,305 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) coronavirus funding.
The council decided to wait until a future council meeting to determine how to spend that.
Several ideas were presented, however.
The council had previously identified several areas it wants to focus its attention, including utility and mortgage assistance for its residents, food security, domestic abuse and child abuse, child care and mental health.
While no decisions were made on where to spend its CDGB funds, it was pointed out that utility assistance, mortgage assistance and food security are being covered by Denton County. Child abuse and domestic abuse efforts are not covered by the CARES Act.
City officials said another option is to help provide internet access to areas of the city that need it most, especially in light of in-person classes getting canceled suddenly in the spring because of COVID-19. There are 1,789 LISD students in Lewisville who don’t have internet access at home, a city report stated.
Lewisville ISD set up internet hot spots to help students who don’t have home access to Wi-Fi, but there were times when parents would drive their student to a hot spot while the student did their homework from the vehicle.
Assistant City Manager Claire Powell brought up two ideas. One is to provide Wi-Fi at Reverend Alvin Turner Sr. Park. The other option is to purchase approximately 325 Mi-Fi units that can be checked out through the library. That would go along with the 700 units LISD already has.
Assistant City Manager Donna Barron said she discussed both ideas with LISD Superintendent Kevin Rogers.
“He was much more interested in (the 325 Wi-Fi units) option than to put more technology in the parks because people just don’t want to go park somewhere and have their children sit in the car,” Barron said. “It just doesn’t work.”
Councilman Brandon Jones appeared to favor spending some of the money on internet access.
“We need to find a permanent partnership with LISD to make sure we expand Wi-Fi the best we can,” Jones said.
The internet access could also help adults, Powell said.
Unemployment in Lewisville is slightly higher than the Texas and national average.
“This helps with individuals, even if they don’t have children, find jobs,” Powell said.
Cost of COVID-19
In addition to the public safety salary, Lewisville is projected to spend even more money in the coming months due to COVID-19.
That includes $270,000 for facility retrofitting to make them safe, $175,000 on testing at various nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other special communities, $80,000 in disinfecting facilities on top of the $10,000 it has already spent, $30,000 on educational efforts, $11,000 on technology for remote working and $10,000 on thermometers and personal protective equipment.