Owensboro officials are hopeful the city will soon see CARES Act funding from the state of Kentucky, something that has been delayed in getting to local governments.
On Monday, Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson signed off on a memorandum of agreement between the city and the Commonwealth for $4.3 million, through the Department of Local Government, that has been allocated to the city by the state through the CARES Act.
The signing of the MOA is the final step in a long application process for the reimbursement grant. The hope is that the city receives the money as soon as possible, said Watson.
“We needed the money yesterday, that is the way that I look at,” he said. “I thought we would have already had the request and that those funds would have already been in the pipeline. There is a big chunk sitting up there in Frankfort that still hasn’t been pumped into the economy.”
The anticipated funds will go toward reimbursing the city for costs related to personal protective equipment, programs for low-income housing and rental relief, and filling those revenue gaps already existing or that may manifest due to the pandemic, he said.
“It is there to be used to address COVID-19 related issues and loss of revenues,” he said. “That ranges from loss in tourism dollars, to a loss in our portion of the gas tax, to community programs, things like that.”
When the relief funding does arrive, it will fall on certain members of city staff and the commission to determine where those funds will be best spent, he said.
“We will be looking at community development initiatives, aiding shelters; there will be need down the road that we will address,” he said. “The commission and our staff will work together to determine the best uses of the funds. Even though we are waiting, we are in good shape.”
While the state has been slow to distribute funds, Owensboro has benefited from the federal CARES Act, most notably in the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program loans, a factor that Watson believes truly helped in allowing Owensboro to be the only metropolitan area in the nation to show a decrease in unemployment.
“The Small Business Administration issued over $5.2 billion in loans to over 50,000 small businesses in Kentucky,” he said. “Our own local Independence Bank processed over $60 million in PPP loans in our community alone. Owensboro Health has received $23.215 million as well.”
The impact of CARES funds that have been distributed has been staggering, he said.
“I think it is difficult for folks, especially in these uncertain times, to be aware of the response and recovery efforts on the part of local, state and federal agencies to manage this pandemic. Once you realize the impact and the effort being put it, it is mind-boggling. It is easy to ask, ‘Who cares?’ when in reality, government cares. It is easy for the left to stand there and say the (Trump) administration hasn’t done anything ... they have done something, and the impact on our community shows they have, and it all starts with the federal government.”
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, email@example.com