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Cities and counties await guidance before spending stimulus money

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Many West Virginia counites and municipalities will share in a substantial windfall from the federal government in the American Rescue Plan approved last week by Congress. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin on Friday visited Charleston to meet with local leaders and discuss the money which will come from Washington to help each of the state’s towns and counties.

The amounts each receives is based on population. Charleston is set to draw down $37.8 Million. But it’s not as simple as depositing the check and handing out funds. Charleston City Manager Jonathan Storage said there is still a lot they don’t know.

“Devils are in the details. We have to make sure we’re following detailed federal rules and the U.S .Treasurery is working feverishly to issue that guidance just like it did with the CARES Act funding,” he explained in an appearance on MetroNews flagship station 580-WCHS Monday.

Amy Goodwin

Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin added there are plenty of ways the city will be able to use that money for good once they realize how they are allowed to spend it.

“I think there are a lot of things we need to consider. There are other things we need to consider like investing in small business and investing in non-profits which take care of our families and those who are in need,” she said.

The Mayor noted however there is strong language in the bill which will have no tolerance for any missteps in spending.

“If it is misspent in any way, even unintentionally, all that money goes back,” Goodwin explained.

Grafton’s city council will soon explore how they will handle the $2.07 Million they will get from the program. City Manager Kevin Stead told MetroNews the last CARES Act funding took care of the city’s overtime and PPE expenses related to the pandemic. He said Grafton hasn’t experienced a big hit to its tax revenue because of the virus.

He anticipated the latest round will be directed toward infrastructure. It’s perfect timing for Grafton. The city is starting the process of raising money for a $6 Million dollar sewer project.

“Council hasn’t discussed this $2 Million yet, but I would imagine the money will go toward that six Million dollar project basically to keep the rates lower,” Stead said.

He explained if they had to borrow the full $6 Million they were going to have to look at raising sewer rates. Using the full $2.07 Million dollar allocation will keep those rates close to where they are now.

City leaders only learned the money had been allocated and the amounts last week. Others who spoke with MetroNews said they too are unsure how to properly spend it and will await the full guidance before moving ahead with any programs.

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