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CARES Act Funding
Miami County has been awarded about $6.9 million by the State of Kansas to assist with local response and recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic. The funds will be split into two areas with an initial portion to be reserved by the county to directly reimburse jurisdictions for local response to the pandemic. Once those numbers are finalized, the remaining funds will be distributed by the county to other initiatives involving COVID-related expenses.
On the state level, Governor Laura Kelly has created the Office of Recovery and the Strengthening People and Revitalization Kansas (SPARK) task force. An overview of how the state's process will work is provided here.
Slightly more than a month ago, Miami County was notified by the SPARK task force that it would receive $6.8 million to assist the county with COVID-related expenses that had been incurred or that were anticipated to occur prior to Dec. 30, 2020.
These CARES Act Federal funds were passed through to the county by state. County allocations were determined by county population, unemployment rate and the rate of COVID positive tests as determined at the time of the allocation.
In general, the funds cannot be used to cover items that had been previously budgeted or to cover shortfalls created by lost tax revenue. In addition, the funds could not be used to pay municipal utility bills or for any service that extended past Dec. 30.
“This has been a fast-paced process with guidance that continues to evolve. The county is committed to being good stewards of all funds to insure they are used in a way that maximizes their long-term benefit to the county and our citizens,” said Commission Chairman Rob Roberts.
The Miami County Commissioners engaged a consulting team from the University of Kansas led by the Public Management Center to facilitate a public process to determine best uses for the funds. The top priority was covering costs that had already been incurred by the county, cities and school districts.
Once those initial costs were covered, the commissioners targeted five primary areas of interest for the remaining funds. Almost 100 residents and community leaders took part in a series of webinars crafting about 30 proposals for consideration during the week of July 27. They focused on the areas of education-related expenses, human and family services, digital access, workforce and business stabilization, and housing assistance.
“We appreciate everyone for giving their time. Their input and insights provided an insightful and well-rounded approach,” Roberts said.
During their meeting Aug. 12, Miami County Commissioners authorized staff to submit documentation to the state breaking down the proposed use of funds to include:
- About $3 million for combined reimbursements for the county, cities and schools. This includes personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, staffing, health monitoring equipment, technology upgrades and health-related improvements to take place within county facilities and area schools.
- About $450,000 for early case testing and detection capabilities. This includes the purchase of three machines to process samples and provide test results within a single day. The equipment and testing would be managed by the Miami County Health Department. While Miami County has been in communication with the vendor, delivery of the supplies and equipment needed may be delayed. Rapid testing by the county department will not be available until the equipment is received which is not expected to occur before mid-October.
- An additional $1.1 million for the public and private schools within the county for additional COVID-related expenses anticipated to occur prior to year-end. The use of those funds would be managed by the local governing board.
- About $300,000 for behavioral health services to be offered by the Elizabeth Layton Center. This includes grants to underwrite service for clients who need assistance with COVID-related concerns. This may involve direct assistance for services or underwriting costs not covered by their insurance. The program will also partner with the school districts by co-locating additional support staff at their locations. Similar services will be made available to the general public via locations shared with Olathe Health System's local health care clinics. All services will be available in person and via remote access.
- About $1.8 million in direct assistance to local residents who need of assistance related to childcare, food, rent, utilities and adult education expenses. These programs will be managed in partnership with ECKAN. The agency is working with other partners to finalize their distribution strategy. It is anticipated that their portal will be open by Oct. 1.
- About $100,000 for direct business grants. The administration of these dollars will be handled by the county’s economic development office. A program will likely be released in October once the existing Community Development Block Grant and state programs have been finalized. This will allow the award process to be streamlined with those efforts.
- About $120,000 to the cities to assist with ongoing expenses.
- About $10,000 to the county’s fire departments to assist with ongoing expenses.
The State of Kansas has until Sept. 15 to approve the county’s proposed spending plan. During that review, dollars may be realigned to insure compliance with the federal requirements. It is anticipated that most elements of the program would be rolled out by Oct. 1. Information on the programs will be posted within this portion of the county website with application information for each of the assistance programs provided once it becomes available.
“The commissioners will continue to keep members of the public informed; and the website will be updated with information as it becomes available to us. I encourage residents to keep themselves informed by using the county website,” Roberts said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we move forward in uncharted territory. We also want to express our gratitude to the more than 100 participants who contributed their time and knowledge navigating the funding proposals.”