Herald-Whig

Northeast Missouri counties to receive $11.3 million from federal government's CARES Act

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 24, 2020 12:01 am Updated: May. 24, 2020 12:19 am

NEW LONDON, Mo. — Missouri will deliver more than $520 million worth of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding to counties, according to a news release from Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick.

"The top priority of the working group has always been to work with Gov. (Mike) Parson to get CARES Act money distributed to Missouri's local governments as efficiently as possible," Fitzpatrick said. "Now our counties must work with cities and other political subdivisions to ensure that this money reaches those on the front lines — our health departments, health care workers and first responders — to ensure they have the necessary resources to adequately respond to COVID-19."

The nine counties in the Northeast Missouri region are slated to receive more than $11.3 million with Marion County, the region's population center, taking the largest chunk. Marion County is allocated to receive $3,347,138.

Also receiving funding are Pike County, $2,147,190; Ralls County, $1,209,451; Lewis County, $1,146,920; Monroe County, $1,014,114; Clark County, $797,424; Shelby County, $695,707; Scotland County, $575,102; and Knox County, $464,470. SClBEach county's share of the federal aid package was calculated using population estimates from 2019 and determining what percentage of the state's population lives in the county. For the purposes of calculating this, St. Louis and Jackson counties, the state's two largest metropolitan areas, were removed.

Federal government regulations say the money only can be used on expenses incurred combating the COVID-19 virus from March 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. If unused, the funds must be returned to the federal government.

County governments may decide to transfer the money to cities, school districts, a health department or hospital in the county. The county government also can decide to spend the money without transferring it.

If transferred, the funds can be used for payroll expenses for public safety, public health workers and those "public employees who could have been furloughed but were instead repurposed to perform previously unbudgeted functions substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency."

If transferred to a school district, the district could use the money to recoup the costs of changing from in-person to online instruction.

The funds also can be used as payments to help farmers recover from livestock depopulation that has occurred or might occur as a result of supply chain disruptions.

County governments can use the funds to create a grant program that would prevent the eviction and assist in preventing homelessness for families who have lost jobs or wages due to the pandemic, the stay-at-home order or economic recession.

Counties also could opt to create a grant program for small businesses to recover from the mandated closing during the stay-at-home order, that voluntarily remained closed as a way of promoting social distancing measures or for those that experienced decreased customer demand after the state lifted the stay-at-home order.

The funds cannot be used to fill budget revenue shortfalls, to pay an individual's property taxes or to pay overdue utility fees. The funds can't be used to pay for large-scale capital improvement projects.

Ralls County Clerk Sandy Lanier said the county has received its portion of the CARES Act funding and that the county has used some of the money to purchase personal protective equipment, including masks, for county employees. The county also has contracted with the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments to help oversee fund distribution.

Pike County Clerk Susie Oberdahlhoff said the county commission has released a 16-page application that residents, businesses, city governments and other governmental entities can use to apply for reimbursement from the county's fund. The application is available at pikecountymo.net. The county commission has set a June 18, 2020 application deadline.