Coronavirus aid checks worth a total of $521 million could be headed to Missouri counties next week — including nearly $3 million to Texas County — under a plan to divvy up billions of dollars in federal stimulus funding.
The money, which will be based on county population estimates, is designed to be used by counties to help smaller units of government, such as cities and other entities. In Texas County, the county-owned hospital has sustained losses as residents put off medical procedures, the institution said last week. The full affect on cities won’t be known until sales tax revenue reports start arriving.
Texas County stands to receive $2,979,692, under a plan discussed Tuesday in Jefferson City.
The distribution was outlined in the first meeting of an “informal working group” tasked with providing recommendations to Republican Gov. Mike Parson on how to best spend $2.38 billion from the federal government.
Rather than implement an application process for local governments, committee chairman Scott Fitzpatrick, the state treasurer, wants to give counties the power to distribute the cash.
“I think that’s the best way to get that money downstream,” Fitzpatrick said.
The plan came as the committee discussed a number of options for using the money to pay for the state’s response to the pandemic, which has killed more than 300 Missourians and brought the nation’s economy to a standstill. There have been no positive cases in Texas County — one of handful of counties not affected in the state.
The use of money was discussed at the meeting. Some of the federal funds, for example, should go to payroll expenses for public safety and other front-line workers who have been working to contain the virus, said committee member Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia.
Some state workers are driving from store to store and using a state credit card to purchase personal protective gear for their agencies, said Stacy Neal, director of accounting for the Office of Administration.
“Everyone is looking for it,” Neal said.
The panel also is attempting to ensure it doesn’t distribute funds to state and local agencies that are receiving federal funding from other sources.
Schools, for example, are getting $117 million to help pay for meal programs that have been upended by school closures.
“You can’t double dip,” said Parson budget chief Dan Haug. “We will be keeping very detailed records on this because we believe we will be audited by the feds.”
The panel also will investigate using some money to help small businesses that might have been passed over by a federal small business aid program.
“There’s a lot of money flowing,” Fitzpatrick said.