NORTH METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — While cities await a portion of Fulton County’s $104 million in federal relief aid, some organizations operating in the same cities are already enjoying a share.

Cultural and other nonprofit groups, like Alpharetta Community Chorus, Johns Creek Symphony and Roswell Arts Fund, were part of a major allocation in August through the Fulton County Department of Arts and Culture.

The Johns Creek Community Arts Center was awarded $11,000 to foster its programs, which include online programming developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Georgia Ensemble Theater in Roswell received $20,000.

Overall, the county awarded close to three-quarters of million dollars to some 62 organizations through Virtual Arts Initiative grants. Another $144,000 was awarded to individual artists.

The grants are but a drop in the bucket of what Fulton County had already allocated of its relief money.

Shortly after receiving its CARES Act award from the U.S. Treasury Department in March, Fulton County allocated $10 million to nonprofits that specialize in providing aid to seniors, the homeless and families in need.

North Fulton Community Charities, which serves more than 4,000 families in need each year, was one of six organizations that received more than $1.5 million in aid from the county. NFCC was awarded $350,000 for its operations.

Fulton County has used these awards as evidence against the cities’ claims that they’ve been left out.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts fought off the charge, saying in August that the county’s donations to these organizations help residents within the cities. He said countywide efforts and funding for COVID-19 testing, meals for senior citizens and aid for small businesses benefit all cities in the county.

Mayors from the 14 cities within the county, outside of Atlanta, were not happy when Fulton County offered them $2.5 million of the $104 million it received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last March. They were even less happy later that month when the county announced it had already allocated at least 80 percent of the money it had received.

The cities have since negotiated for a total of $25 million of the county’s share, and by October, most cities, including Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs had signed an agreement to accept.

Milton officials were meeting this week to discuss the agreement.

So far, few cities have signed without grumbling.

Roswell Mayor Lori Henry called the county’s actions “heavy handed” and declared the incident has set back relations 15 years between the county and the cities.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said nearby counties like Gwinnett and Cobb took the initiative to meet with their cities first and work out a distribution plan.

“Fulton County screws all its residents equally,” he said Sept. 25, a day after the Johns Creek City Council signed the agreement.

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