Four first responder groups in Franklin County have applied to the county for CARES funding reimbursement.
County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Abe Cook said four EMS services and one fire department had contacted the county to receive portions of the federal COVID-19 funds allotted last month.
New Haven, Union and St. Clair EMS have applied and the Washington Area Ambulance District has confirmed it will be applying soon.
“It’s a mix of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies,” Cook said. “The requests are a combination of supplies already used and new items the services are looking to purchase.”
Cook added one of those items are ultraviolet disinfecting lights to kill germs on surfaces in the ambulances, equipment and stations.
On May 6, Franklin County received $12,197,404 in federal funds from the COVID-19 CARES Act passed by Congress and approved by the Missouri State Legislature.
Within a week, the county had established an email address for government entities across the county to apply for the funds.
The money must be used for actions taken to respond to the public health emergency through the end of 2020.
A team of county officials, including Cook, will review each application and make full recommendations to the county commission to approve or deny the requests.
Cook explained EMA gets a first look at the applications and vetting all of the paperwork to ensure requests are appropriate.
“We are treating this like a flood or other natural disaster,” he said. “We know how to put all of this into a package for situations like this.”
Franklin County Treasurer Debbie Aholt is part of the processing team since her office would be responsible for transferring funds if and when they are approved by the commission.
As of now, the only request to reach her desk is from the Pacific Fire Department.
“The total they requested is only $756,” Aholt said. “It was for a virtual meeting setup, two sprayers for disinfecting, N95 masks, raincoats, gloves and ponchos.”
Aholt added none of the applications have made it to a commission order yet and it’s her understanding several requests will be approved at a time instead of as they trickle in.
Eligible entities include 11 cities, nine fire, six EMS districts, and Franklin County as a whole.
Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker says the CARES funding will only be available to governmental agencies in the county, including municipalities, fire/EMS districts and other public entities.
“This is not a replacement for revenue,” Brinker said. “And any agencies which have received funds from other sources will not be able to double dip.”
Brinker has stated the county plans to spend some of the CARES funds on a new computer system for the collector’s office to allow residents to pay taxes online or with a phone application. The system is expected to cost about $300,000.
Testing kits, contact tracers and future education are also on the county expenditure plans.