WV State Auditor to Help Pocahontas County Track New COVID Stimulus Money
The West Virginia State Auditor J.B. McCuskey came to the March 16th Pocahontas County Commission meeting. McCuskey told the commissioners that the new COVID stimulus bill that just passed congress will be providing a lot of money directly from the Federal government to counties in West Virginia. This differs from the smaller amount provided during last year’s stimulus bill which gave the money to the state to pass down to the counties.
McCuskey said that the counties will have four years to spend this money this time whereas they had only one-year to spend last years COVID money. He said that although the rules for what this new COVID money can be spent for are more relaxed this time, the counties will still have to account for all the money they spend in about two years or so. McCuskey said trying to keep track of how every dollar is spent can be a very burdensome task for the counties.
He said the Tax Office wants help the counties with both interpreting the rules on how the money can be spent, and in maintaining detailed records about how the money is spent. To do this, the State Tax Office will provide the counties with bi-weekly updates on the rules, which tend to change frequently and is allowing and encouraging the counties to set up separate accounts on the WVCheckbook.gov website. Using that website will not only provide an excellent tool for the county to track how it spends the money, but will also provide real-time transparency to any member of the public to see how the money is being spent. He said the county can synchronize their accounting software with the checkbook website to make the task easier. The county will maintain full control over its own checkbook account and can open up any part to the public that it wants to. The Tax Office already lists all state spending on their Checkbook Website.
The commissioners also approved their 2021-2022 Fiscal Year Budget, details of which the commissioners will have published in the Pocahontas Times.
The commissioners had previously approved paying ten-thousand dollars ($10.000) for the Board of Education to use as their local match for their USDA Distance Learning Grant, which would have provided computing devices to all students in the county schools. The Board of Education has now informed the commissioners that grant has not been approved, and asked the commission to allow them to use that money as a local match for a new grant, which if approved would do the same thing. Commissioner Rebinski suggested that the commission hold off from doing this to see just how much money the Board of Education will receive from the new COVID Stimulus bill, which is reputed to be a very large sum. The commissioners agreed and took no action on this request at this time.
The commissioners voted to enter into an agreement with the WV Conservation Agency to help find a location to dispose of debris in the event of a flood.
They reappointed Kendall Beverage and Jamie Kellison, whose terms have already expired, to the Fire Board.
Judy Fuller of the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative informed the commissioners that they believe they have found a Tennent -the County Public Service District – for the second floor of the former Howes Tannery Office Building in Frank, WV if it is restored. They are seeking grants to establish a Tannery museum on the first floor of the building. John Simmons submitted a written estimate he obtained from Reliable Roofing Company to tear off the old roof from that Tannery Office Building and replace it with a rubber membrane roof. Including other necessary repairs, the estimate is for Twenty thousand, one-hundred and forty-six dollars ($20,146.00.)
The commissioners took no action on a request to send three-hundred dollars ($300.00) to Region 4 to advertise for an architect and an Engineer for a possible mitigation grant to move the 911 Center, the sheriff’s Department and Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s EMS Unit out of the flood zone in Marlinton to a new building near the hospital. They need to clarify whether the sheriff’s Department and the 911 Center are actually in the flood plain before approving this.