Federal grant money totaling $300,000 will go to help local businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lee County Board of Commissioners decided Monday.

The county received the money as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that was adopted in March by Congress to provide economic relief.

The county received $1.25 million to use for efforts related to COVID-19.

The commissioners agreed to designate the $300,000 to help fund grants for businesses that have seen an economic downturn as a result of the virus. Many of local businesses were shuttered under Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order in March that closed businesses deemed nonessential

Each grant will be no more than $7,500, according to County Manager John Crumpton. Up to 40 grants will be awarded.

Businesses are eligible as long as at least one owner is a Lee County resident and local taxes are current. The business must have at least two and no more than 20 employees, Crumpton said.

Commissioners are required to hold a public hearing before the money can be allocated, Crumpton said.

A public hearing is scheduled June 29.

The commissioners also approved the fiscal year 2020-21 budget of $77,854,656.

The county’s property tax will remain at 77.5 cents.

The budget includes funding for the Lee County Fire Departments. Two of the departments, Cape Fear and Carolina Trace, will increase their fire district taxes to cover operating and training costs.

The commissioners also approved the 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program budget to cover projects that cost more than $500,000, according to Crumpton.

The county sets aside 7.61 cents of the property tax revenue to help fund the projects, he said.

The approved budget for the program is $171,045,453.

Reach Assistant Editor Nancy McCleary at 919-718-1219.

Reach Assistant Editor Nancy McCleary at 919-718-1219.