HUNTINGTON — More than 60 local government entities, including Barboursville, have applied for a piece of the $1.25 billion in federal pandemic funding allocated to West Virginia.
So far, $8.8 million has been awarded statewide, according to a list from the Office of the Governor dated Monday evening.
West Virginia received the funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $150 billion for state and local governments. The funding can only be used to reimburse for necessary coronavirus expenditures incurred during the emergency beginning March 1 and cannot be used to backfill budgets. Uses for the funding include expenses for testing, providing overtime for pandemic-related work and purchasing supplies.
Barboursville has received $915.43. It is the only Cabell County entity to apply so far, according to the list.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said last week during the Huntington City Council meeting that though the city’s budget is strong, they are applying for about $2.2 million.
“We are being aggressive,” Williams told the council. “I’d rather ask for too much than not enough. We expect to have the application in by Wednesday. … Although our finances have been strong, we have absolutely no idea what to expect in the future. Revenues are more than our expenses, but I’m still a bit nervous. These reimbursements can help stabilize the hard work that each of you were part of for these last four years, and we can’t allow that to be wasted.”
Cabell County Commission members could not be reached for this story.
Hurricane has received $122,887.46 over two awards. The Putnam County Commission has received about $5,889 and this week submitted a second application that is under review, requesting $11,179.63.
In Kanawha County, the Kanawha County Commission is awaiting a decision on three applications totaling more than $3.2 million. Charleston has received $3.7 million over two applications — about half of what the city requested.
The Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority has received $127,094.74, and Metro 911 of Kanawha County has applied for $724,800.17 over two applications.
In southern West Virginia:
- Boone County received $10,819.01 and the Boone County Ambulance Authority received $8,208.96.
- The city of Williamson received $4,908.69.
- West Hamlin has applied for $3,469.90.
- Lincoln County has applied for $38,112.83.
As of Monday evening, there were 59 local governments and entities awaiting approval for their applications, with requests totaling $23.6 million. A spokesman for the governor said no application has been denied, but there have been instances where applications have not met all the federal guidelines so the award is less than was requested.
Gov. Jim Justice has repeatedly said in encouraging locals to apply for the grants that he knows the guidelines are strict but it’s still worth applying for the funds. Justice has also said he is confident the federal government will ease the restrictions and allow the funds to be used to fill budget gaps.
A new study from the National League of Cities predicts $360 billion in revenue will be lost to cities, towns and villages over the next three years nationwide due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic shutdowns. The shortfall will vary depending on a city’s revenue streams and unemployment rates.
The study calls for more federal support for local government, fearing states will use the funds to backfill state budgets and leaving little left for local government.
Indeed, Justice has said he is still holding out hope to use some of the $1.25 billion to bridge the state’s budget shortfall when the fiscal year ends June 30. The current budget hole, while not as bad as originally anticipated, is $235 million below estimate. Part of that is due to the state pushing back the tax filing deadline to July.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has introduced a bill that would require states to release 45% of the CARES Act funding to local agencies, including local government, health departments and first responders, by the end of June. In West Virginia, that would be $562.2 million. Manchin said cities in West Virginia “have not seen a dime” of this funding.
Justice said last week the bill was just a “political stunt,” pointing out that the state has released funding.
Though the state received a portion of its funding in April, a website to apply for funding was not set up until mid-May as Justice continued to say he was asking the federal government to ease the restrictions.
Williams told the council that the governor and his office were working to be as permissive as possible under the federal guidelines.
Meanwhile, the virus behind the shutdown that caused the financial burdens continues to make its way across the state and country.
On Tuesday, 19 new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported statewide, for a total of 2,341, and 4,545 test results were received by the state. Total deaths remained at 88.
Cases per county (case confirmed by lab test/probable case) are: Barbour (10/0), Berkeley (381/18), Boone (19/0), Braxton (3/0), Brooke (5/1), Cabell (73/2), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (10/0), Fayette (54/0), Gilmer (10/0), Grant (15/1), Greenbrier (37/0), Hampshire (40/0), Hancock (18/2), Hardy (40/1), Harrison (48/1), Jackson (141/0), Jefferson (206/5), Kanawha (242/7), Lewis (8/0), Lincoln (5/0), Logan (21/0), Marion (51/2), Marshall (37/1), Mason (15/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (14/0), Mineral (49/2), Mingo (9/3), Monongalia (131/14), Monroe (8/1), Morgan (18/1), Nicholas (7/0), Ohio (56/0), Pendleton (11/2), Pleasants (3/1), Pocahontas (20/1), Preston (20/5), Putnam (41/1), Raleigh (24/1), Randolph (141/0), Ritchie (2/0), Roane (11/0), Summers (1/0), Taylor (9/1), Tucker (5/0), Tyler (3/0), Upshur (6/1), Wayne (105/1), Wetzel (9/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (52/4) and Wyoming (5/0).
In Ohio, 434 new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported, for a total of 42,010, and 24 new deaths, for a total of 2,597.
In Kentucky, 203 new positive cases of the virus were reported, for a total of 12,829, and seven new deaths, for a total of 512.
Across the U.S., there were 2,104,346 cases of COVID-19 reported as of Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 116,140 deaths related to the virus.