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Commissioners discuss COVID relief funding
During Tuesday's Hays County Commissioners Court meeting, the court had a discussion surrounding a resolution related to the county's use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
According to Commissioner Walt Smith, the treasury has since come out with additional direction regarding lost revenue.
“Municipalities and counties of our size with the allocation that we had could use $10 million dedication towards lost revenue,” Smith said. “If we were to take a $10 million-loss revenue allocation or claim that $10 million-loss revenue allocation, we wouldn't be able in the future to claim additional lost revenue.”
The court went on to approve of the resolution that states, “these funds are intended for acute pandemic response needs, revenue shortfalls, and general support for communities and populations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”
The commissioners then had a discussion regarding Hays County’s use of federal or other grant funding related to COVID-19 response including but not limited to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
While Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra had plans of holding a presentation regarding broadband updates, Smith brought up concerns surrounding the presentation.
“We, as a court, acted on this grant earlier and the grant itself is not COVID related and it's not being paid for out of any COVID related funds,” Smith said. “It’s not subject to this agenda item whatsoever. So that being the case, I’m in serious concern that we’re in violation of the Texas Open Meeting Act if we have this presentation today.”
The court then received input from Hays County General Council, Mark Kennedy.
“If this grant is not nestled in under COVID-19 response, then I would feel more comfortable that we wait two weeks before we discuss and we’ll post it with specificity for that,” Kennedy said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell further explained that when the court holds a presentation, it’s posted and the community is made known of it.
“Commissioner Smith and I both brought this item over this past year, we acted on it several times in support of and also offering to provide some county funds in coordination with this when I was told there would be a presentation on this item, I asked the question and I said, ‘Would you ask our General Counsel if he believes we are posted for this kind of a presentation,’ and he said no,” Shell said. “So I believe since it’s not an emergency we should post the item like we traditionally do as a presentation.”
Ultimately, Becerra agreed to postpone the presentation until the Feb. 15 meeting. The commissioners then went on to discuss the specific projects they were interested in using ARPA funding for including the Hays County Food Bank, the Willow Creek Drainage Project and EMS/fire stations and equipment.
For the complete meeting and agenda, visit https://hayscountytx.com/commissioners-court/court-video/.