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Greene County planning to disperse $34M in relief funds

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The Greene County Commission this morning considered a framework for dispersing the $34 million in federal coronavirus relief funds it received from the state on May 7.

Commissioners heard a proposal to disperse federal funding through grants and approved a resolution of intent to hire a grant manager to oversee the application process.

Jeff Scott, budget officer for the county, said the grant program would target all sectors of the community that provided resources or services in response to the pandemic, including medical and mental health, nonprofit, emergency response and law enforcement agencies. Scott also suggested a steering committee be appointed for the application process.

“This is an enormous task to do appropriately,” Scott said. “We want to stress greatly … we need to know the problems of the community [and] the impact of COVID-19 on the community.”

The state of Missouri received $2.3 billion in federal COVID-19 funding, of which nearly $521 million was dispersed to county governments last week, according to a news release from the state treasurer’s office. The five counties in Springfield’s metropolitan statistical area – Greene, Christian, Polk, Dallas and Webster – were awarded a total of $55 million.

Local governments may use the coronavirus relief funding to cover necessary expenditures in response to the coronavirus, as well as costs that were not accounted for in an annual budget and expenses incurred from March 1 to Dec. 30, according to federal documents. The funds cannot be used to replace revenue.

Eligible expenditures include COVID-19-related expenses of public hospitals, clinics, testing and emergency medical response, as well as communication of public health orders, acquisition and distribution of personal protective equipment, disinfection of public areas, the issuance of paid sick leave to public employees, and payroll expenses for public employees that responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noneligible expenditures include severance pay, reimbursement to donors for donated items and expenses that will be reimbursed under other federal programs.

Conversations concerning the grant process are expected to continue this week, said Donna Barton, spokesperson for the commission. In the meeting, Scott expressed urgency in making the applications available in the coming weeks.

“The funds have to be spent by Dec. 30,” he said. “I believe there’s a lot of need in our community. … I hope we can allocate the full amount of funds by October.”

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