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COVID-19 relief block grant to be allocated to county, city based on population

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission received a block grant of $100,000 to help with expenses due to COVID-19.

During its Thursday, May 14, Upshur County Commission meeting held via teleconference, the commission learned the money is meant for both counties and municipalities.

“You received a letter dated April 15 with $100,000 check enclosed and a letter from Governor Justice states in part, that he has issued block grants and the amount of $100,000 to each county in West Virginia to help pay extraordinary costs that your county and the municipalities within your county are incurring due to the pandemic,” County Administrator Carrie Wallace said.

She explained these funds will be expended for purposes allowable under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which also known as the CARES Act.

“That means these funds may only be used to cover expenses that one, are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 pandemic,” Wallace said, “and two, were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020, which is the date of the enactment of the CARES Act for your county or municipality, and three, were or will be incurred during the period that begins March 1, 2020 and ends on Dec. 30, 2020.”

(To read more about how CARES Act money at the local governmental level must be spent, click here to see the federal guidelines.)

She said the Commission will be responsible for all of the funds even though a portion of them are designated for the City of Buckhannon.

“What we would have to do is require the City of Buckhannon to provide us with the information [about what] they would like to utilize the block grant funds for, we would write a check from the special account that has been created, pursuant to the auditor’s office guidelines,” Wallace said. “Then, we would include their expenditures and our monthly report to the governor’s office which is due on the 15th of the month following the month of the expenditures, so our first report will be turned into the governor’s office tomorrow.”

Commission President Terry Cutright said the only fair way he could see to split the funds would be based on population.

“The county has 24,605, 5,566 of which are within the municipal limit, so if you would split it based on that 22.62 percent would be the city and 77.38 percent would be the county,” Wallace said. “The city’s portion will be $22,620.42, and the county’s portion would be $77,378.58.”

Wallace added that if the City of Buckhannon does not utilize their entire portion of the funds, they may be returned to the county for any of its COVID-19 expenses. The same rule applies to the county: If they do not need their entire portion of the funds, the city may use them.

Commissioner Sam Nolte made the motion to approve the splitting of the funds and commissioner Kristie Tenney seconded it before it passed unanimously.

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