West Virginia State Auditor J.B. McCuskey attended the Pocahontas County Commission meeting March 16 and told the commissioners that the recently passed COVID Relief bill will provide money directly from the federal government to counties in West Virginia.
This differs from the smaller amount allocated in last year’s stimulus bill, which gave the money to the state to pass down to the counties.
McCuskey said counties will have four years to spend the money this time, whereas they had only one year in which to spend last year’s COVID money. He said, although the rules for what this new COVID money can be spent for are more relaxed this time, the counties will have to account for all the money they spend in about two years or so. McCuskey said trying to keep track of how every dollar is spent can be a very burdensome task for counties.
He said the Auditor’s Office can help counties interpret the rules on how the money can be spent, as well as help maintain detailed records about how it is actually spent. To do this, the office will provide bi-weekly updates on the rules and is allowing and encouraging the counties to set up separate accounts on the WV Checkbook.gov website.
Using that website will not only provide an excellent tool for the county to track how it spends the money, but will also provide real-time transparency to any member of the public who is interested in seeing how it is spent.
McCuskey said each county can synchronize their accounting software with the checkbook website to make the task easier. The county will maintain full control over its own checkbook account and can open up any part to the public. The website also reports all state spending.
Judy Fuller, representing the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative, informed the commission that the group believes they have found a tenant – the Pocahontas County Public Service District – for the second floor of the former Howes Tannery Office in Frank, if the building is restored. They are seeking grants to establish a Tannery museum on the first floor of the building.
John Simmons submitted a written estimate he obtained from Reliable Roofing Company to tear off the old roof and replace it with a rubber membrane roof. The estimate is for $20,146, which includes other necessary repairs.
In other business, the commission
• approved the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year Budget, which will be published in The Pocahontas Times
• took no action on a request from the Board of Education to use a previously designated local match for a new grant application
• entered into an agreement with the West Virginia Conservation Agency to help find a location for the disposal of debris in the event of a flood.
• reappointed Kendall Beverage and Jamie Kellison to the Fire Board
• took no action on a request for $300 from Region 4 to advertise for an architect and engineer for a possible mitigation grant to move the 911 Center, the Sheriff’s Department and Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s EMS Unit out of the flood zone in Marlinton to a new building near the hospital. There is a need to clarify whether the Sheriff’s Department and the 911 Center are actually in the flood plain.
The Pocahontas County Commission meets the first Tuesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. and the third Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.