GIRARD, Kan. — As coronavirus relief funding trickles down from the federal government to the local level, some questions remain to be answered about how the money will be distributed.
Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commissioner Susan Galemore spoke to the Crawford County Commission Tuesday to discuss Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that are being made available to the county from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through the Kansas Department of Commerce. Grants have also been awarded to the cities of Pittsburg and Girard to pass on to local businesses and meal programs.
Crawford County outside of Pittsburg and Girard has been awarded $132,000, Pittsburg will receive $170,300, and Girard, along with the broader area served by its school district, is receiving $169,200 of the funding, known as CDBG-CV grants.
The local government bodies are responsible for verifying that businesses applying for CDBG-CV funding have “no duplication of benefit,” Galemore said.
Businesses applying for the funding through the county or one of the cities “can have received assistance from other programs, but they can’t use the CV money for the same use,” she said. “So for example if they got PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] assistance and they used it for salaries, the CV money can’t be used for salaries but they could use it for inventory.”
Galemore also said that, contrary to what the county commissioners had previously been told, Frontenac businesses will not be excluded from applying for CDBG-CV funding through the county, even though the City of Frontenac applied for funding on its own but was not awarded any.
“That’s good news,” said Commissioner Bruce Blair.
“Yeah that is good news, but that’s not what we had heard,” said Commissioner Tom Moody.
“We did verify in an email that yes, they will allow that for this particular program. They normally do not do that, but for this program they are allowing that,” Galemore said. “Now, there is a caveat.”
If Frontenac businesses get funding through the county’s CDBG-CV grant, the City of Frontenac may be unable to apply, or its application may be a lower priority, for a second round of funding through the program — although it is unclear whether there will be a second round.
“So there’s some unknowns,” Galemore said.
“So I would recommend while you guys are working through the paperwork part of it, maybe that will give the state time to get organized, and maybe we can get some more firm answers before Frontenac would have to make a decision on whether they want to roll in under this particular round or not,” she said.
“The safe bet would be roll in under this one because it’s a known fact that you have the money and they are eligible to apply. The unknown is a little scarier for them — it’s a gamble — if they choose not to come in now, will they end up doing a second round?”
The county commission will still have to approve a more specific plan for how it will distribute the funding before businesses will be able to apply. Farmers and ranchers, as well as nonprofit organizations, will not be eligible for the funding, Galemore said.