MORGANTOWN — As part of the American Rescue Plan, billions of dollars will be distributed among every town, city, county and state in America.
In shorter supply, however, are specific answers about exactly how these direct payments can be used.
To that end, the Monongalia County Commission will host U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., at 3:30 p.m. today.
“We just want to make sure we’re following the rules,” Commissioner Tom Bloom said of the visit, “This is the first time ever that we will be able to direct the funds to areas of need that we believe in, but we want to follow the rules and guidelines. Right now, we just don’t know.”
Invitations have also gone out to commissioners in Preston and Marion counties, as well as representatives of the municipalities in Monongalia County.
Bloom said the commission has received a request for specific accommodations from a national media outlet for the visit, which will be recorded and livestreamed via the commission’s YouTube page.
The commission met last week with West Virginia Auditor J.B. McCuskey, who laid out how his office intends to monitor the expenditure of these funds using city and county-specific accounts through online financial management service OpenGov.
Even so, McCuskey said his office still has questions about some of the American Rescue Plan guidelines.
“It happened so quick, they didn’t really appear to put a lot of safeguards in place,” Commission President Sean Sikora said of the rescue plan.
Commissioner Jeff Arnett said city and county leaders are better off asking questions now than trying to answer them at some point in the future.
“What you worry about is what happens five years down the line,” he said.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, Monongalia County is expected to receive $20.48 million. The city of Morgantown is anticipating $10.65 million.
Those dollars are part of the $677 million in funding for West Virginia’s cities and counties, which also includes $1.74 million for Westover; $1.31 million for Granville, $810,000 for Star City; and $70,000 for Blacksville.
Questions for Manchin about the rescue plan funding can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org