Town Manager: Stimulus extension is good news for Westborough

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By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

Westborough – During the Dec.  22 meeting of the Westborough Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Kristi Williams and other officials talked about public concerns about the $1.6 million allocation the town received through the federal CARES ACT.

To date, $700,000 of that money has been spent. She said that the federal stimulus package now has extended the deadline for use of those funds until Dec. 31, 2021.

The town manager noted that an extension is significant and good news.

“There is money remaining and we’re working hard to spend that money efficiently,” Williams said.

A significant amount of money goes toward COVID-related expenses in public safety as well as shifting to a hybrid model in schools. The funds are channeled through the state to the various departments.

Superintendent of Schools Amber Bock said that the likelihood of aid and an extension has her doing “a mini happy dance.”

The school committee recently proposed putting a $421,000 request on the Town Meeting warrant to cover the costs of salaries for the second half of the year. If the funding comes through, voters will be asked to pass over the article.

“It’s a huge financial gain for us not impacting free cash,” Bock said.

Other town officials said they were carefully tracking expenses that could be reimbursed by the CARES ACT. They reported having a sufficient amount of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Selectman Ian Johnson said that the CARES ACT works differently in that it is tapped into only after all other state and federal funds have been exhausted. The town has to submit documentation and receipts in order to be reimbursed after the fact.

Director of Public Health Steven Baccari said the Board of Health is hoping in the future to organize a vaccination clinic for first responders in Westborough and many surrounding towns. They are awaiting word on a different grant to accomplish that event.