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CARES cash drying up for local governments, at least for now

MORGANTOWN — A Jan. 19 letter from Ann Urling, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Jim Justice, says the state will not fill any more Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act reimbursement requests from local governments, for now.

The letter says West Virginia received $1.25 billion in relief funds and initially allocated $200 million of that for local government applications. That allocation ended up being adjusted to $265 million. 

In the letter, Urling urges local governments to continue to apply through the application portal.

“There could soon be a third stimulus package by the Congress. It is possible that more state and local government aid could be included in any future aid package and with the continued applications of our local governments, the state will be prepared to resume filling requests if those funds materialize.”

In October, the city of Morgantown used CARES money to reverse some cost-cutting measures — freezes on hiring, promotions, raises —  implemented  when the onset of COVID-19 and the efforts to stop it prompted the city to trim millions from its budget, including an initial cut of $3 million from a $39.7 million spending plan.

At that time, the city had received $6.9 million in CARES Act relief and had just been approved for just over $1 million in additional assistance.

Monongalia County Administrator Rennetta McClure said the county has received  a little over $2.5 million.

In the letter, Urling encourages government entities to also consider available funding through federal agencies like FEMA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control.