County approves aid plan

Chad Frey

Harvey County finalized a “Direct Aid Plan” for spending about $7 million in federal funds designated to deal with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds are designed to address medical or public health needs related to the public health emergency and provide economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to COVID-19.

The county will submit a plan to the state this week. The deadline that administration and a committee of seven people were working on was Aug. 15.

However, there has been a change. According to Anthony Swartzendruber, county administrator, the state is hiring an accounting firm to review all the direct aid plans from across the state. Each of those is to be reviewed in the order they were received.

“No one at the state is reviewing them right now until the firm comes online next week,” Swartzendruber.

The state has promised those plans will be reviewed by Sept. 15. Funding will likely be dispersed in October.

The plan proposed programs to provide funds to municipalities, schools, nonprofits and organizations that have incurred expenses responding to COVID-19. There have been, in what is being called the first round of funding, a significant number or requests

“When we first got told we were getting nearly $7 million, we wondered how we would spend it all,” Westfall said.

“And then $12 million in requests came in,” Hague added.

Swartzendruber said this week he believes there is going to be more money coming for long-term care facilities, community care clinics, business expansion, business extension, nonprofit grants, local food systems and broadband expansion coming from Congress.

And those funds may come with less bureaucracy. The first round of funds have been limited by the Kansas Legislature, and the process has been marred with tight deadlines and unclear guidance.

“The next CARES act says the states cannot put any undue restrictions on us which they have already done,” Commissioner Chip Westfall said.

The current funding stream comes from the initial CARES act. The state of Kansas received more than $1 billion to distribute as aid for COVID-19 expenses.