As millions of dollars for local counties from the federal CARES Act are expected to start appearing in counties' bank accounts next week, the group advising Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on how to spend federal pandemic aid is continuing to determine how the money the state has received can be used.
Missouri has so far received more than $2 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and state treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick is leading a group of state legislators and other state and federal officials advising Parson on how to distribute the aid per federal guidance released last week.
The group met Tuesday, and Fitzpatrick's office later announced the first payments of federal aid to counties will be processed May 4, with funds to be available in county bank accounts by May 6.
The money for counties is to intended to cover necessary expenses incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020, that were not budgeted for as of March 27.
The federal guidance defines a necessary expenditure as one that could include direct emergency response, such as addressing medical or public health needs, as well as expenses related to addressing unemployment and businesses interruptions.
Federal funds cannot be used to fill budget holes for shortfalls in revenue.
"The (U.S.) Department of the Treasury understands this term ('necessary') broadly to mean that the expenditure is reasonably necessary for its intended use in the reasonable judgment of the government officials responsible for spending Fund payments," according to the guidance.
The supplemental budget Missouri lawmakers passed earlier this month included that at least 25 percent of CARES Act funding received needed to be disbursed to local governments within 10 days of deposit with the state.
Twenty-five percent comes out to more than $520.9 million.
Of that, Cole County is set to receive about $9 million, according to a list released by the treasurer's office Tuesday.
Boone County is set to receive approximately $21.1 million; Callaway County, $5.2 million; Camden County, $5.4 million; Gasconade County, $1.7 million; Maries County, $1 million; Miller County, $3 million; Moniteau County, almost $1.9 million; Morgan County, $2.4 million; and Osage County, almost $1.6 million.
In terms of what else the state may be able to use federal funding for, Dan Haug, the state's budget director, said that could include the salaries of some state employees, given there are Missouri State Emergency Management Agency employees working essentially full time to purchase personal protective equipment and information technology workers helping state employees work remotely.
Haug said the $250-per-pay-period hazard pay the state is offering to workers at facilities such as prisons, psychiatric hospitals and habilitation centers that have a COVID-19 case among staff or wards of the state might also be eligible to be covered by federal funding.
The advisory group also preliminarily spoke with health and industry leaders Tuesday about what an expansion of COVID-19 testing for active infection or antibodies may look like — including to areas that have been under-served by drive-thru testing, especially north of the major cities on Interstate 70 and in the southeast corner of the state, or for people who don't have a vehicle.
The group's next meeting date has not yet been set.
More information about the group, who serves on it, how much the money the state has received and when, and the federal guidance for spending emergency funds is available at treasurer.mo.gov/COVID.
This article was updated at 5:05 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, 2020, with additional details.