JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Jefferson City Fire Department is looking to fund and reimburse expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic with federal dollars, as Cole County continues to dole out CARES Act funding.
According to 31 CARES Act Applications from Jefferson City to the county commission obtained by ABC17 News through a sunshine request, JCFD wants $590,045 to fund and reimburse a variety of expenses from 8 of those applications.
Cole County has about $9 million in CARES act funding to distribute. Of that, about $1.5 million already went to schools in the county during Phase one of their distribution. Phase two is underway, with $1 million set aside for all cities in communities in Cole County, not just Jefferson City. Another $1 million for health care agencies, small businesses, and non-profits during this phase.
The presiding commissioner of Cole County said the applications will be discussed at Thursday's meeting after the private accounting firm looks over each request.
Division Chief of JCFD Jason Turner said public safety is key for the city. For the department, keeping their staff as well as the public safe during the pandemic is critical.
"Having that funding we for the equipment we feel that we need is crucial," Turner said.
He said the department has already purchased many items related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one challenge is making sure those items are in stock and make it to Jefferson City in a timely manner.
"It's important for us to be able to get the equipment ordered as soon as possible because it may be that we are in a pattern waiting for everyone else across the nation that are requesting the same pieces of equipment we are," Turner said.
One of the largest items being requested is 85 portable radios to improve communication, with a price tag of $493,000. The application lists the justification as communication being key, and some deficiencies in large structures known about for years.
The city administrator Steven Crowell said the city believes all of the items on the list are COVID-19 related, saying they applied for the funds because they are available, knowing some items may have to be pushed back, like the radios.
"Some more immediate than others, but nonetheless, COVID-19 related in our view," Crowell said. "We wanted to make sure that we had a comprehensive list going to the county for their consideration."
Crowell said he is not sure what criteria the commission are looking at for each request.
"This list was provided to the county without knowledge on our part on what their decision making priorities were," Crowell said. "We kinda just got them the list and stuff, still not really sure what their priorities are."
The city did not prioritize the list sent to the county, according to Crowell.
"For us, there certainly a lot of opportunities for different kinds of projects," Crowell said.
Right now, Turner said the department's PPE supply is stable, as staff monitor's how much is used on a daily basis. The department requested a total of $44,550 for backup supplies of disposable PPE like gloves and masks, as well as reusable gowns. Another request is for a mask fitting machine for $18,295.
Another important factor for the department is decontaminations, requesting $14,500 dollars for multiple tools that they hope will keep both their employees as well as the public safe from COVID-19.
Turner said they haven't faced any serious financial crisis yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We watch our personnel, we watch out staffing levels to make sure we're within where we are allowed to be," Turner said. "And working closely with City Hall in the direction of what our financial needs are."