States and cities across the nation are receiving federal CARES Act funding to support surviving small businesses, struggling families and COVID-19 response, but for months, Jackson County, Mo., sat on over $100 million that could have greatly supported the community earlier.
Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City and Mayor Eileen Weir of Independence expressed their frustrations over the weeks about the slow process of distributing the funds that would have helped the county greatly in such urgent times.
On Twitter, Lucas said, “In Missouri, it appears that even when we have billions to spend on public health, we can’t get around to it. I hope all our counties see the light before we waste another three months when we should be fighting the spread and impact of COVID-19.”
Finally, on Aug. 12, Jackson County officials distributed over $80 million to cities in the county.
“We have acted as quickly as possible to get these funds in the hands of the communities and programs who need them, while ensuring the money will be used appropriately and in accordance with federal rules,” said Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte. “This has never been about politics or using the money as a political football. It has been and always will be about protecting the health and well-being of our friends, family and neighbors from a virus that knows no race, age or community boundaries.”
According to the Jackson County Legislature, $32.4 million will go to Truman Medical Center, $18 million to the City of Kansas City and $5 million to the Jackson County Health Department. Because more testing has been done in Jackson County than any other county in Missouri, some of the funding for the health department will go toward hiring more contact tracers.
The funds Kansas City received will be used for first responders, the health department and direct COVID-19 governmental responses, but Lucas said the $18 million did not include funds for small businesses. The original request for $54 million had set out funds for Kansas City’s small businesses.
While the $18 million for Kansas City did not cover small business funding, Clay County did received $1.5 million for small business relief grants.