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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a press briefing April 1, 2020. Photo by Office of Missouri Governor

Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday the state would be distributing funds received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to local governments.

Missouri received approximately $2.4 billion in federal funding, including nearly $173.5 million for St. Louis County and $122.7 million for Jackson County. Twenty-five percent of the remaining state share was distributed to Missouri counties based on population — for Moniteau County's 0.26 percent local population share, the county received $1,892,606.

Moniteau County Presiding Commissioner Mac Finley said the county is waiting on guidance from the state treasurer's office regarding how the funds should be spent — Finley said the existing federal guidance is fairly vague.

"I do know that the money cannot be used to make up any shortfalls in revenue — taxation revenue, that is," Finley said. "The county is not going to gain anything out of it, other than we're going to get some costs covered that are directly related to COVID-19. I'm just certain we're going to have significant tax shortfalls over time, but once again, we can't use the money for that."

Finley said, under federal guidance, CARES Act funding runs through the end of December, so any appropriate costs incurred through that window can be paid. After that, Finley said the leftover money is sent back.

"And if the county spends any money inappropriately, the county's liable for it," Finley said. "The costs that appear to be payable under the program are only those that are directly related to COVID-19."

Finley said this will likely include personal protective equipment (PPE) expenses for county law enforcement, along with the county's fire departments. He said disbursements will likely go to the health board, and probably to cities in the county based on PPE expenses as well.

Finley said he would also suspect Moniteau County 911 Director Kevin Wieberg will receive some compensation since he's been working around the clock.

"(His salary) is very inappropriate for the amount of time he's spent working," Finley said. "He's just been doing a tremendous job, but he's been working hours upon hours to do it. So we're going to try to figure out some reasonable, equitable way to compensate him."

Finley said the money will come in installments, which the county hasn't yet started to receive, but he would expect a substantial amount of money will be sent back at the end of the year. Tentatively, Finley said the county doesn't expect to be in a place where it's comfortable making any payments with CARES Act funding until late summer, if not early fall.

"We have to be very careful how we spend it," Finley said. "The county just can't afford to lose any money. We can't afford to be held responsible for some money that we sent out that is deemed inappropriate."

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