Bates county commissioners Larry Hacker and Alvin Griffin appeared before citizens and the Butler city council to answer some tough questions last night
Tough questions in respect that there’s plenty of rules and a little red tape involved. In short, dispersion of the $1.8 million the county has received for COVID relief is going to be a complex operation.
Sorry, but no, the money can’t be used to fix roads and similar projects- it must be clearly earmarked to cover losses directly linked to the COVID pandemic. You can get a little taste of the verbage beginning with the 880 page outline of the CARES act at https://treasurer.mo.gov/pdfnew/CARESACTFULLTEXT.pdf.
The localized, condensed version is here https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Coronavirus-Relief-Fund-Guidance-for-State-Territorial-Local-and-Tribal-Governments.pdf.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Hacker said covering expenses for what has already happened will be relatively easy compared to planning ahead for an anticipated ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 that is supposedly coming by this Fall. This will require a balancing act of dispersing some money now, and holding on to some to be used for the second wave.
It’s a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario. Any money not used must be returned; and money that is used must be carefully documented. The catch is, some rules are clearly vague creating legal grey areas the commission wants to avoid.
So who will receive some of the benefit? Generally speaking it will be hospitals, schools, police departments, fire departments, first responders, churches, businesses, municipalities, etc. Case in point, it was noted that the city of Butler currently has just under $4,000 in documented COVID related expenses and it’s certain there’s more to come.
Through the 45 minute discussion it was clear that these are uncharted waters and the commission is meeting literally on a daily basis to work though it.
As of now, the commission will be sending an email to qualifying entities in Bates County that are eligible for funds- however, it is strongly encouraged that if you have questions or want to find out if you’re eligible, contact the Bates County Commissioners office by phone or email to get the ball rolling.