COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Wednesday marked the first full day people could apply for funding through the Boone County Commission's CARES Act portal.
Some applicants could get their requests filled by the end of September, according to county leaders.
Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said the portal was already getting traffic Wednesday.
There is a full video walk through of how to apply for the funding on the county's website.
The deadline for applications of the $21 million is Nov. 16, 2020.
The commission has already allocated money to the Columbia/Boone County Health Department to pay for positions like contact tracers, and Columbia Public Schools for hotspots.
The commission will work to decide where to allocate money as requests come in. Atwill said they will not wait to allocate all of the money until after the deadline.
"If an application makes it through the approval process, we're very quick about issuing funding checks. It could happen quickly after the completion of the application," he said.
Atwill said funding could even be available to some applicants by the end of the month.
The commission has a list of priorities to help them decide how to spend the money.
"Healthcare will be first. Issues related to actual problems caused from a health standpoint by COVID-19," Atwill said.
He said requests from municipalities like the City of Columbia and schools are also important for the commission to review.
"I think that healthcare and government entities will be the first in line, and probably, I think that's the intent of the law," Atwill said.
Assistant Director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department Scott Clardy said even though the department is a top priority for CARES Act funding, it did not have any plans to request more funding as of Wednesday.
Clardy said the department got permission from the commission Wednesday morning to reallocate funds to hire more disease investigators.
Now, the department is talking about trying to recoup costs associated with the pandemic it accrued before Aug. 1.
"The idea then would be that we would use that money to continue paying people that we hired with the CARES Act funds past December the 30th when this CARES Act funding ends," he said.
Clardy said the department does not want to request more funding before it knows it will spend what it has already been allocated.
Clardy said he thinks the decision to put healthcare and health-related issues first during the pandemic is smart.
Both MU Health Care and Boone Hospital Board of Trustees have submitted requests to the commission for CARES Act funding.
Atwill said emergency management staff will reach out if they see an incomplete application before sending it through the full process.
"After the application is complete it will be circulated through the county offices of the auditor, the treasurer who would ultimately issue payment, and a county counselor to see if all things are compliant with the law," Atwill said.
Application will then be sent to county commission for final review, who will make a decision on the application to accept it, reject it, or accept part of the application.
Atwill said the commission would like to be able to fulfill every request, but because funding is limited, it will be difficult to sort what money goes to what location.