The Emergency Operations Center Grant County established amid the COVID-19 pandemic has overspent its $125,000 budget by almost $75,000.

The Grant County Court approved $125,000 in funding for the EOC in March, and the EOC has obligated $197,019 in payouts through May, according to information presented in Grant County Court May 27 by EOC Incident Commander Dave Dobler.

Grant County Treasurer Julie Ellison said at the meeting the EOC will need another budget transfer to make payroll and pay current invoices to make it through the fiscal year through June.

In a document Dobler presented in court, he details $60,000 of unexpected expenses — $35,000 for federal reimbursement tracking software, $12,000 for rent at the airport, $9,500 for wifi and $3,000 for non-EOC expenditures — but the document also claims the EOC is within its budget.

When Dobler originally requested funding for the EOC, he requested $250,120 for 90 days, but the Grant County Court authorized only $125,060 with the plan to reassess in 45 days. The document Dobler presented in court appears to be working from the $250,120 figure that was not approved by the court.

“I went through my county commissioner for requests, and did the best I could, and that’s really, really where we’re at,” Dobler told the Eagle. “So if the court has an issue with that, I guess we’ll deal with that at one particular time or another.”

Moving money

Ellison said the county transferred the $125,000 from the General Fund Contingency to the Relief Help Fund for the EOC in March with $23,564 budgeted for materials and services and $101,436 budgeted for personnel services.

The $23,564 corresponds with a procurement request Dobler submitted in court March 25 for supplies, including $18,000 for communications and information technology. Ellison said that account is currently underfunded by $9,815.

The documents Dobler presented in court list an additional $10,200 supply procurement request on March 13 for a total of $33,800, but that $10,000 figure was never actually budgeted.

The personnel services account still has $15,195 remaining, Ellison said, but there are thousands of dollars in accounts payable and invoices that must still be paid.

Ellison said the additional funding would most likely be transferred from the General Fund Contingency, which would need to be allocated by the Grant County Court.

“I do not know at this time how much will be needed,” she told the Eagle.

Court approval

When the county court approved Dobler’s original procurement request, they added the direction that “any future purchases over $200 would need to be approved by the county court,” according to the approved meeting minutes.

After the procurement request, however, no additional purchases were approved in a session of the Grant County Court, including the $35,000 federal reimbursement tracking software and up to $10,000 for a contract for grant-writing services to secure federal reimbursements.

The EOC spent $14,800 on communications equipment. It bought at least 11 laptops and a printer costing $6,100 and six speaker phones for $900, plus $90 for two-day shipping.

The $91,791 total supply procurement cost presented in court by Dobler includes $54,789 for IT and software, $15,021 for general expenses and rent, $14,889 for communications, $3,022 for non-EOC expenses, $1,856 for decontamination, $1,169 for office supplies, $698 for gas and $343 for shipping.

For 12 full-time and part-time EOC employees, including some overtime and some employees who only work as needed, the EOC cost for 12 weeks of wages from March through May was $81,728, plus $13,000 in benefits and $10,500 for a safety officer for a total of $105,228 in payroll and fees.

County Judge Scott Myers and Commissioners Sam Palmer, the EOC public information officer, and Jim Hamsher, the court liaison to the EOC, did not respond to questions about the EOC budget or why purchases over $200 were not brought before the court.

In court, Hamsher said the plan was to submit the EOC’s expenditures for reimbursement. He said up to 100% reimbursement was possible through Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding received by the state, compared to up to 75% reimbursement possible through FEMA.

The county submitted a proposal for reimbursement through the state of Oregon Coronavirus Relief Fund Thursday and is waiting to hear back, according to information posted on the county COVID-19 website, grantcountycovid.com.

Reporter

Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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