MEDIA – Restaurant, bar, gym and yoga studio owners in Delaware County may be getting up to $4M in CARES funds to get through this latest round of COVID restrictions, thanks to a unanimous vote by the Delaware County Council Wednesday night.

The county’s Economic Development Oversight Board will distribute the funds, said the board’s Laura Goodrich-Cairns, adding she hopes to see checks in the hands of local businesses by mid-January.

With the December holidays upon us, Goodrich-Cairns said she looks forward to the work “because the business community really, really needs this money right now. The time to do this is now.”

Following the restrictions on restaurants and gyms on December 12, per Gov. Tom Wolf’s order, many businesses are contemplating closing doors permanently, said Goodrich-Cairns.

“We know of a restaurant with over 40 years of business that is closing, we know of a yoga studio that is also closing, and we know of a gymnastic studio that is as well,” she told the county council at the Wednesday night meeting.

“The point here is to get this money over to small businesses in a quick turnaround,” said County Council member Elaine Paul Schaefer. “We want to help them survive this very difficult period and be able to take care of their bills.”

Funds will be disbursed in amounts of $5,000 to $40,000 and businesses are invited to apply starting this Friday until December 29.

Interested small businesses can apply at Applications can also be dropped off in person at the Delaware County Commerce Center. (100 W 6th St # 100, Media, PA.)

Schaefer said that those businesses that have qualified before for CARES funds “are pre-qualified. You still have to apply and fill out the form, but you already qualify.”

At the same meeting, the council passed a $355 million budget representing a $2.9 million decrease in the general fund from last year.

Delaware County is completing a court-ordered property tax reassessment.

The county council also unanimously voted to enter into a contract with CGL Companies for $385,000 for de-privatizing the George W. Hill Correctional Facility.

Delaware County’s Jail Oversight Board unanimously voted to recommend approval of the Miami-Florida based correctional facilities contractor for services to de-privatize the facility.

County officials said the funding will come from the general fund balance in the 2021 budget.

“It is time we rethink our model for crime and punishment in Delaware County. Jail can be an opportunity for inmates to pay their debt to society but also to start anew and become healthy, contributing members of the community,” said Councilman Kevin Madden, who chairs the Jail Oversight Board and has taken the lead on planning the return of the jail to public control.

Last week, Jim Hannigan, the assistant warden of facilities in the prison administration department, passed away of COVID-19 related health issues.

Hannigan, who had been hospitalized since Nov.18, leaves behind his wife Amy and their three-year old daughter, and two children from a previous marriage.