County receives CARES Act funding

    Crawford County has received $2.8 million in funding from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act). These funds are to be solely allocated to necessary expenditures incurred as a result of the public health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    County officials are still waiting on further guidance for how to allocate the funds. At the May 12 meeting of the Crawford County Commission, Lesa Mizell, the county’s emergency management director, noted there is a short list of things the funding can be utilized for, and the county is working on how grant applications will need to be written to apply for funds.
    The hospital in Sullivan will most likely be eligible to receive funds, along with first-response agencies. Funding cannot be used for a budgeted line item, with the exception of payroll for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and other similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The funds must be used for expenses incurred between March 1 and December 30 of this year. Funds cannot be used to cover revenue shortfalls.
    District #2 Commissioner Jared Boast offered examples of non-budgeted expenses that would probably be eligible. “Nowhere in the county budget do we have any line item for air purification systems. So, when this came on and we started having this situation, we purchased multiple (for offices that had to remain open to the public).” He also mentioned the triage tent set up by the hospital in Sullivan.
    Any funds not expended will have to be returned to the state, and ultimately to the federal treasury.
    Mizell noted, “We will move this to a separate account—it cannot be used for (general revenue) or income loss to the county. Once they give us the process, we will start telling people how to submit for grants.” She said the current guidelines are “pretty vague” so they were waiting on further clarification.
    County Clerk John Martin pointed out there would be a budget revision for the county to show the receipt of the funds and the disbursement to the separate account, noting the county was simply acting as a “pass-through” for the funding.
    Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders noted, “This is money for COVID-19 strictly. We want to make that clear to county residents.”
    He added, “It is extremely important this is all tracked. Anything the county doesn’t use has to be refunded.” Mizell noted the county would be held responsible for ensuring entities use the funds for what they say they need it for.
    Sanders also reported the county will set up a committee to determine the allocation of funds.
    The CARES Act went into effect when, on March 27, Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act). The CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund and appropriated $150 billion to that fund. Under the CARES Act, the funds are to be used to make payments for specified uses to states and certain local governments. The U.S. Department of Treasury issued guidance on April 22 regarding the use of the funds for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments.
    On April 28, Crawford County received information and guidance from the office of the Missouri State Treasurer regarding the distribution of certain CARES Act funds from the State of Missouri. The Treasurer’s office requested Crawford County to review, approve, sign and return a certification for payment by May 1 based on the guidance issued by the State Treasurer. Crawford County received $2.8 million in funds from the CARES Act on May 6.
    Crawford County will utilize the guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the State of Missouri in making determinations about the use, including allocation and award of the funds received under the CARES Act. Crawford County is in the process of reviewing the CARES Act requirements and guidelines issued by the Treasury and will develop policies addressing issues related to the next anticipated steps in this process, including who can apply to receive these funds and the process and requirements for doing so. Further information regarding Crawford County’s allocation and distribution of CARES Act funds will be made available to the public as more information is gathered.

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