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SPARK used for counties assistance

'Area Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas' (SPARK) committees are now creating framework for the distribution of up to $525 million for Kansans, businesses, and communities to recover from the economic impact of the 19 pandemic. In mid-May, Gov. Laura Kelly announced the creation of the SPARK Taskforce to serve as the Recovery Office team responsible for the statewide distribution of over one billion dollars in CARES Act funding. In early June, the SPARK Taskforce held their initial meeting to begin the process of determining how to best distribute these funds. The taskforce decided to implement a funding plan that includes three focused distribution rounds within the state.

As county SPARK program committees continue to decide distribution of government money that they are receiving to help COVID-19 qualified entities in round one, some of that same money is in turn being spent in terms of hiring out in assistance.

Mitchell County has received 1.1 million in funds to distribute. The Mitchell County Commissioners in turn have hired out to the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC) to assist with the COVID-19 expenses that will qualify for the program. They will be receiving $59,000 for their service in Mitchell County. From the 12 counties that NCRPC serve they are providing the same assistance to three counties including Mitchell, Ottawa and Washington.

Mitchell County Commissioner Tom Claussen, said NCRPC was hired because they are in town and they support the county on all of their projects that require government disbursements.

"They are very good at what they do," said Claussen. "If we would have chosen to do ourselves, the county clerk would have been very overwhelmed. The NCRPC are very impartial and will distribute the funds to the entities on an impartial basis. They have a full time staff and their suspense time is relatively short. We just don't have the courthouse staff available to do it, especially during election time."

Other counties have chosen to both hire out to services or to take on themselves through inhouse assistance to save money that will in turn go towards those asking for help through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cloud County is receiving $1,748,585 million dollars in SPARK money and have chosen to do their own work through courthouse employees. The County Clerk, Emergency Preparedness Director, and the Treasurer are working on the process and a Commissioner is on hand to help review as well, through what they express as a tedious process.

Osborne County Emergency Management is preparing all the paper work for the $681,922 to save expense for the county. Being a smaller county, they feel it is their job to pick up the slack when available on filling out the necessary guideline papers, viewed as not too complex.

Jewell County will be handling in-house as well, as they feel with the short time frame given on due dates to disperse the funds, it is the best option for them.

Both Lincoln County and Republic County have hired out on an hourly expense.

Lincoln will pay $50 an hour with a cap of 300 hours for their hired out service. Republic will pay $25 an hour for 15-20 hours a week, with their hire paying for their own supplies.

With so many needing financial relief and help through the government assistance, guidelines must be followed in order to meet the requirements.

The CARES Act requires that payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that

1. Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19);

2. Were not announced for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and

3. Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020. (If anyone in Mitchell County has spent money for COVID-19 loss within the first phase going back to March 1, that money was submitted to possibly be automatically reimbursed.)

Guidance on eligible uses of fund disbursements by governments will be received and are due on Aug. 15, 2020 by those processing, but funds were to be placed in an account for reimbursement by July 15.

These requirements on the 'Reimbursement' category are to help cover payback for those who have suffered COVID-19 loss on the qualifying dates.

On the 'Direct Aid' category, this will cover new assists needed for the COVID-19 pandemic through human resources from July 31 going forward.

In another 'Program' category, the money can be used moving forward to fall upon the COVID-19 umbrella.

Each county can choose to help those who have suffered with COVID-19 effects or to also add other categories into their government distribution program as an added expense.

To view a list of round one funding by Kansas County, c l i c k o n www.kansascounties.org/ resources/covid-19/sparkc a r e s - a c t - r o u n d - o n e - distribution-amounts-by-kansas-county.pdf

To find out more about the Kansas Counties CARES Act Funding, visit KAC’s website, www.kansascounties.org, and to see additional information about the Kansas SPARK Taskforce Recovery Office, visit https://covid.ks.gov/

Beloit Call

P.O. Box 309, Concordia, Ks. 66901

Phone: 785-738-3537