The Cole County Commission approved hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal money Tuesday to pay salaries of workers at the Cole County Health Department and Cole County Emergency Medical Services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioners approved paying $646,000 for salaries at the Health Department, as well as $900,000 for EMS salaries — the majority of which, $747,066, is funding 10 additional paramedics due to increased calls for service.
The commission had not heard as of Tuesday’s meeting whether the state would go along with guidelines following federal legislation approved this month, extending the timeline for local entities to complete their spending and paperwork as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Later Tuesday, Kelli Jones, the spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson’s office, said there has been an extension, but no details were provided.
Officials with BKD, a Springfield accounting firm assisting the county in meeting its obligations under the CARES Act, suggested the commission take action on the county’s remaining funding before the original deadline, which was today. The final reports are to be completed by the county Jan 6.
The commission also approved making three emergency purchases with CARES funds. Of the $38,630 total, $38,558 was for personal protective equipment for EMS.
The total amount of CARES funds approved by the commission Tuesday is $1,431,696.
Prior to Tuesday, the county had spent or distributed $6,966,730 of the more than $9 million in CARES funds it received in May.
BKD officials noted Tuesday they had not received documentation from St. Mary’s Hospital for $135,805 in allocated CARES funds. St. Mary’s officials said they were having difficulty getting items they had planned to purchase in time for them to qualify for CARES money. BKD was to advise St. Mary’s officials they had until 4:30 p.m. today to return paperwork in, otherwise the money would go back into the unused portion of the county’s CARES money.
Depending on whether St. Mary’s gets its paperwork in, the county could have $566,679 or $702,484 remaining in CARES funds. Commissioners on Tuesday approved using any remaining funds to pay for public health and safety salaries.