Gaston and Mecklenburg counties plead with N.C. senators for action, flexibility on coronavirus relief bill

The Senate side of the U.S. Capitol is seen on the morning of Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3,...
The Senate side of the U.S. Capitol is seen on the morning of Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Washington.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 8:56 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gaston and Mecklenburg counties are jointly pleading with North Carolina senators to take action and have flexibility with the latest version of the coronavirus relief bill.

The Democratic chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and the Republican chairman of the Gaston County Board of Commissioners sent a joint letter to North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators, urging them to lobby for a coronavirus relief package that provides flexibility for local governments to strategically respond to the needs caused by COVID-19 in 2021.

In particular, both chairmen wrote of their strong support for the latest iteration of the bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, which contains $160 billion in relief for state, county and local governments, as well as a distribution formula that local leaders say is fair to all involved.

Additionally, Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties are seeking added flexibility in the funds received through the Coronavirus Relief Fund earlier this year.

The counties ask Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to lobby for expanding the deadline to use those funds until the end of 2021, while also allowing for any new funding to be used to help offset expected revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

“We are grateful for the hard work our two senators are doing in lobbying for the best outcome for our residents in this bill,” Gaston County Board Chairman Tom Keigher said. “Providing flexibility in how these federal relief dollars are handed down is critical to keeping our local economy moving forward and many of our residents from falling though the cracks.”

The letter was sent Friday to the staffs of both senators by Gaston County Manager Dr. Kim Eagle.

“As we fight against COVID-19, we continue to seek ways to help our residents during the hard economic times now and into the future. As we work together with our neighbors across the Catawba River, we encourage our U.S. Senators to work together to fight for this important legislation,” said Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioner’s Chairman George Dunlap.

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