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Sedgwick County Commission discusses allocating funds from CARES Act

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 6:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Sedgwick County Commission Wednesday held a special meeting to discuss how it can best allocate available CARES Act money. The near $100 million the federal government gave the county is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and an overall effort to assist communities in helping their residents.

In the overall discussion about COVID-19 spending, Sedgwick County commissioners on Wednesday talked about three big topics: rapid testing for COVID-19, assistance to bars and nightclubs shut down due to the pandemic and a spending plan to help schools. While all of the money to address these topics would come out of the CARES Act funding, there are questions on how this would work.

The commission passed a motion from Commissioners David Dennis to allocate $100,000 to every school district in Sedgwick County for personal protection equipment, cleaning purposes, and more, as well as a flat rate per student.

CARES Act-spending considerations with rapid testing and the assistance to bars and nightclubs were both tabled until Aug. 12. Some commissioners said they aren’t sure if it’s legal to give money to a bar or nightclub from the federal funds. They said they’re concerned they would have to pay money back for assistance to those businesses through the CARES Act and that doing so could take away from taxpayer dollars.

“If we handed that money out, and we find out we did that incorrectly, up to five years from now we would have to use property tax dollars to refund if you will, the federal government for misuse of those funds,” Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said. “So there’s just so many reasons why it just doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t have started down this path in the first place.”

Howell said he believes bars and nightclubs should not have been temporarily shut down in the first place.

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