County receives one-year extension to use remaining CARES Act money

Funding nearly depleted as 2020 comes to an end

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 12/30/20

VIENNA — The Maries County Commission reported last week that the recent passage of federal stimulus will result in CARES Act monies being extended through December 2021. The county will not be …

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County receives one-year extension to use remaining CARES Act money

Funding nearly depleted as 2020 comes to an end

Posted

VIENNA — The Maries County Commission reported last week that the recent passage of federal stimulus will result in CARES Act monies being extended through December 2021. The county will not be required to pay back any remaining funds that were not spent, according an email from a Missouri county clerk.

County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said she received the email from Platte County Treasurer Rob Willard, who found wording in the $900 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress last week that the deadline for the county to spend its CARES Act funds has been extended. The bill is 5,593 pages long and the wording was found more than 4,000 pages into the massive document.

The extension of the deadline was good news for Platte County — located in the Kansas City metropolitan area with over 104,000 residents — where $10 million dollars remains of its CARES Act funds. In comparison, Maries County, which posted a 2019 population of 8,697 residents, has $5,000 remaining of the original $1,020,000 in allocated CARES Act funds.

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said he’s glad they don’t have to return any of the CARES Act money.

“Now we have a whole year to spend five thousand dollars,” Stratman said.

At last Monday’s meeting, the county received the December bill from Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) for administrating its CARES Act funds. The bill was for $1,500. Stratman said they can wait to pay it after the first of the year because they already have it budgeted. The county stopped paying all bills except for payroll on Dec. 15 as it prepares them for the end of the year and next month’s extensive budget work.

The county also received a December bill request from the Phelps-Maries Health Department for $10,280.43 — to be paid for by CARES Act funding. Officials had anticipated this bill to be at least $12,000. Stratman said the approval of the health department’s bill will be the last one for this year, as the county can’t bill any further out.

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel speculated that the health department can’t be finished with their billing requests and asked if the county is obligated to pay the amount out of their CARES Act funds. The county’s new CARES Act balance is $6,818.71 as of Dec. 21. Drewel commented that he thought the money needed to be spent before the end of the 2020 physical year. The deadline was later extended when congress passed the second stimulus package on Dec. 28.

Be Patient

Stratman said he would like to ask citizens to be patient when doing business with the Vienna License Office, which is operated by Maries County employees in the courthouse. He said he knows it is a hectic time of year and that people have a lot on their minds right now. There have been some incidents in the license office where customers have become irate with the clerks.

Stratman suggested citizens look over their renewal notices carefully and gather and bring all of the needed documents for their transactions to the license office. The clerks who work there are required to see those documents in order to complete the transaction.

More people are wanting to get the Real ID but it requires documentation citizens may not be aware of needing. The license office has a brochure that indicates what is needed. Stratman said he knows it's frustrating to be turned away because of inadequate documentation, especially for folks who come from out of town. However, the license office clerks are required to follow specific procedures and answer to the Missouri Department of Revenue. It is a professional operation.

Stratman said he’s really proud of the women who work in the license office.

“They do an excellent job and I stand behind them one hundred percent,” he said.

Fuel Tax Revenue

County Treasurer Rhonda Slone reported on motor fuel tax revenue for 2020, noting it brought in $312,211.62, down seven percent for the year as compared to 2019 when the motor fuel tax revenues totaled $336,828.37. This revenue the county receives on gallons of gasoline sold helps to support the two-county road districts. The numbers were not so far off. The year 2020 has been very unique with human and economic activities changed throughout the year. These revenues were nearly the same as in 2019 in January through May. Then the monthly revenue began to creep lower each month, starting with a $7,000 drop-in June. From June through December 2020, the motor fuel tax revenues did not bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers.

Slone reported the county’s motor vehicle tax revenues for the year are down about three percent. This is local sales tax on vehicles purchased, title and processing fees. Total receipts for 2020 were $93,820.13, compared to 2019 when the annual receipts were $96,553.37.

Slone said the motor vehicle fee, charged at the license office and increased by the state of Missouri, was up seven percent for the year. In 2020 Maries County received $52,290.41 in motor vehicle fees compared to the $48,826.14 it received in 2019.

They did some figuring and determined the lower receipts on fuel tax and motor vehicle tax revenue will mean about $13,100 less revenue for Road District One, and about $10,700 less revenue for Road District Two,  in comparison to last year’s numbers.

911 Grant

At Monday’s meeting, IT Coordinator Shane Sweno said Maries and Phelps counties will need to sign the draft agreement for the 911 grant next week before they are asked to sign the finalized draft. Sweno said they should get 80 percent of the money around the first of the year for the upgrades to the 911 dispatch equipment. The first payment will be almost $100,000 — about 20 percent of the total is anticipated to be received in about six months.

It was reported Sweno now has his own office in the courthouse and is no longer a dispatcher for the sheriff’s office. Stratman said he’s using the office formerly used by Public Administrator Carol Schulte, who prefers to work from home. Some of the public administrator files remain in the office.

Different Mapping

MRPC manages Maries County’s flood plain, for which they are paid each year. Stratman said this year they are charging more because the mapping is different which changes some things in the flood plain and this requires more work. The mapping, which affects mortgages and insurance, is better and corrections will be made. Stratman said the information will be correct and more accurate.

Drewel asked how it was correct before if they are changing it now. Stratman said the maps are better and they have to look at each parcel. Drewel said they have apps that can be installed on smartphones that tell you all you need to know. This won’t require driving around to look at them.

Stratman said the bill for the flood plain management will go up by at least $2,000. At this time he’s not sure of the scope of work but it was said the charge will not to be more than $6,000 for the year. He thought the county was paying about $3,000.

Drewel asked about MRPC’s hourly rates and Stratman said it depends on who works on the project, as the hourly charges range from $45 to $87 an hour. Drewel commented this is one of those many expenses that continue to rise.

Belle MFA Building

Drewel said he heard Jimmy Zumwalt plans to take possession of the old MFA Building in Belle and move it to another lot on a Highway 28 location to use for his office.

New postage machine

Stratman reported the county purchased a new postage machine, for which the ink cartridge ran out of ink about a week ago. They had trouble getting a replacement so one was ordered from the manufacturer Pitney-Bowes. They have been using the old machine again and will keep it as an extra, just in case.

The license office has bigger packages it has to ship as the office does title work for banks and must do a daily shipment to the Director of Revenue. The office is penalized if it fails to meet its deadline. The ink cartridge arrived later in the week.

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