All Politics is Local

County concerned about state’s CARES Act deadline

A state-imposed CARES Act funding deadline is causing some raised eyebrows from local governments like Clark County.

The county has been scheduled to receive $26,867,500 in the federal aid approved by Congress in late March. The state of Washington will disperse money from the program to local governments.

Under state guidelines, COVID-19-related expenses incurred by the county from March 1 through December 30 are reimbursable, county Finance Director Mark Gassaway said.

But potential expenses in the latter months have created some confusion. The state has set a deadline of Oct. 31 for municipalities to develop a plan on how to use the money.

The thinking is that, if some counties and cities are unable to use their entire allotment, the state can find other ways to maintain the total funding from the federal government.

“It’s really, kind of, an artificial deadline that the state has imposed,” Gassaway said. “I don’t know why they feel that was necessary, but that’s a policy question.”

The Clark County Council agreed during a meeting Wednesday to push for assurance that its funding will continue for the final two months.

“If we think we have to spend it by Oct. 31, the county might be inclined to spend it on less-pressing needs and then not have funds available for an upsurge in the fall when we really need it,” Councilor Temple Lentz said.

Jack Heffernan

Jack Heffernan

Jack Heffernan is a breaking news reporter and covers Clark County government for The Columbian.