VIENNA — The Maries County Commission will begin taking reimbursement requests for coronavirus-related expenses for public entities and political subdivisions and with the help of MRPC, the …
VIENNA — The Maries County Commission will begin taking reimbursement requests for coronavirus-related expenses for public entities and political subdivisions and with the help of MRPC, the first checks probably will be written in June.
At last Tuesday’s Maries County Commission meeting, Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said he was informed by MRPC staffers that all applicants for the CARES Act money will have to fill out a one-time certificate form before the reimbursement process can begin.
Maries County received $1,020,332 in federal money to share among county cities and other tax supported entities for virus-related expenditures they all incurred. If the expenses already were reimbursed by another fund, then they can’t apply to “double dip.”
For reimbursing business losses because of the virus, Stratman said MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge said, “To let the dust settle” as they seek more interpretation on what can be paid to businesses. “Who knows what people will come up with,” he said, adding they need “to study on businesses” for a time.
One thing for sure is that is Maries County wants the help of MRPC staff with properly distributing this money.
Stratman said the entity seeking the reimbursement will need to be certified with the one-time form, and there will be a person from each of these groups certified to sign. Then they will submit their expenses. If they get money and a later audit says they should not have received it, they will have to pay it back. County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said Prigge will be sending a press release about it soon.
Public entities and political subdivisions that are entitled to ask for virus-related reimbursement include schools, cities, hospitals, libraries, fire districts, ambulance districts, non-profits, and all county departments.
At Thursday’s meeting, Stratman said MRPC is ready to accept reimbursement requests from cities, political subdivisions and public entities. The requests should be sent to Kelly Sink at MRPC. The address is 4 Industrial Drive, St. James, MO 65559. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and her phone number is 573-265-2993.
Stratman said MRPC recommended the county commission not make a decision about business reimbursement until July, giving them the month of June to figure it out.
Ken Stratman Construction is working on a project in the sheriff’s office that has been a problem for some time and the commissioners would like to see it finally resolved and repaired. The floor in the sheriff’s office deputy hallway continues to heave up and this will be the third time the floor was repaired. Carpet squares were put over it so that they could be replaced if needed. Ken Stratman told Commissioner Stratman he’s trying to drill into the footing and it is not easy. They found water, took it out, and more water came back. It has to be fixed. He needs a longer drill bit. He used a 17” bit but it was not long enough. Just outside the elevator shaft is the deputy’s hallway in the sheriff’s office. They took up some of the carpet squares and saw mold and drilled down and saw the water. The plan was to give the water a path to drain into the elevator shaft where there is a sump pump and a drain but they have not been able to get to the footing.
On Thursday, Stratman said they workers used a 24” bit but can’t find a void so maybe they are hitting a pillar. They will try another hole to drain into the elevator shaft, which is five feet below the floor. It was chipped out of solid rock. The building is strong. Stratman said there’s probably not much water to drain away, except during the rainy times.
The deputy’s hallway is done and they’ve chipped out what they needed to in the bathroom to install the decontamination shower. Commissioner Stratman said, “I want to get this taken care of.”
Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre agreed saying, “It’s been going on forever.”
Virus food assistance
Stratman said the USDA has a coronavirus food assistance program. It is money to assist farmers with livestock, grain, wool, pigs, and more, but no speciality crops. For more information contact the USDA Farm Service Agency in Linn at 573-897-2115 extension 2.
Steve Vogt of Belle approached Stratman about the person who has an auction site in Belle wanting to do a flea market to sell animals and he asked permission. Fagre suggested they talk to USDA or maybe Kip Hiatt who does an animal sale some times at the old cattle sale barn at the junction of Highway 63 and Highway 28, south of Vienna. The auction owner wants to do the animals to draw more people to the auction. Stratman said he told him to go ahead.
Stratman spoke about some statistics supplied by MOCA on the Head Start activities in the multi-county area. Together, these Head Start facilities serve 509 children. In a survey, it was noted 97 to 99 percent of the children have health insurance. Some 94 percent of the children have up-to-date immunizations, and 97 percent of the children have dental care. Stratman said he was surprised at these high percentages for Head Start.
Fagre said its probably because they are served by Medicaid or some type of CHIP program for kids through state and federal government. Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said it seems like health insurance in going more and more to government coverage.
Learn the issues
Stratman said it is unfortunate that voters who don’t understand what they are voting on, vote anyway.
“It’s that way in every election,” said Rodgers. Stratman said he would like to see voters make more of an effort to learn the issues.
They talked about mail-in ballots, which is a big national topic right now. Rodgers said absentee balloting is a type of mail-in ballot voting. It was noted it takes some effort to request an absentee ballot and get it voted and notarized. Voters can say the reason they need to vote absentee is they need to stay at home because of the virus and then the ballot does not need to be notarized.
Rodgers said mail-in voting for all county registered voters would be expensive. Postage would be a big cost if all of the county’s 6,700 registered voters mailed in their voted ballots. The cost would be $1.40 per voter for a grand total of $18,760 in postage costs. Fagre said there would not be precinct and other costs though.
Rodgers and staff were ready for the Tuesday, June 2 Municipal Election. She ordered safety shields from Elkins-Swyers to be used on the tables between poll workers and voters in an effort to not spread the coronavirus. She ordered 40 tall ones at $104 each and two short ones at $70 each. These were paid for with the CARES Act grant money her office received to help keep poll workers and voters safe while voting during the pandemic. From the Secretary of State’s office, she received face masks, shields, large bottles of hand sanitizer and sanitized wipes to clean areas after people vote.
Rodgers said they had to put more effort into securing poll workers because of the virus but she did it. They’ve had training and talked about sanitizing ink pens, tables and polling booths after voters cast their ballots.