County cautious about $7.29M in federal funds
Right now, what county officials know is this:
Putnam County is set to receive $ 7,287,634 in federal funds as part of the American Rescue Act.
Besides that, details are only starting to emerge.
Commissioner President Rick Woodall appeared before the Putnam County Council Tuesday night and shared with them what his research has revealed.
He has learned all funds will come from the U.S. Treasury, as opposed to the 2020 CARES Act, which had states administering funds to counties and municipalities.
While exact uses of the money have not been revealed, information Woodall shared from the National Association of Counties indicated it can be used for such things as salaries, infrastructure and tax revenue shortfall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the money cannot be used to offset any taxes and it cannot fund any pensions.
Woodall also shared that the money has to be spent by Dec. 31, 2024 and the county will have to give reports of how it is spent.
At this point, he said, his main goal is to get the county through likely revenue shortfalls due to decreased income tax and gas tax funds during the pandemic.
“What I feel the most important thing the county needs to do with this money is we need to sit down and determine how much money we need to put forth for shortfalls,” Woodall said.
Councilman Larry Parker concurred, noting that the county cannot start funding any ongoing obligations that will continue beyond the next couple of years.
“We have a big chunk of money coming but we have to be very careful with what we create because we have to take care of it down the line,” Parker said.
One topic that came up was the inevitable fact that tracking such expenditures will be a major job, one that Council Attorney Trudy Selvia suggested may be best handled by hiring an administrator for this specific purpose.
While the situation will continue to develop over the coming months and years, local officials are currently not trying to get ahead of themselves, but hope to move the county forward in the process.
“I believe our efforts in the last few years set us up very nicely to use this for county improvement,” Council President Dave Fuhrman said.