Mercer County discusses how to deliver CARES Act funding to workers

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – The Mercer County Commission discussed new steps to take during the pandemic, including how to best use funding from the federal CARES Act.

The Governor recently announced grants of $100,000 to be given to counties to distribute to front line workers during the pandemic. How counties use this grant is up to their discretion, but the main intention is that it goes to workers in some way.

Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett says that how the money is used is more difficult than it may seem. 

“The Governor said he wants this as the hero pay, and unfortunately the things what he wanted it to go to and the things we’re allowed to do in terms of accounting, they’re really kind of two opposite things,” Puckett said.

Puckett believes the money should be spent on indirect means, like ways to keep front line workers safe from infection.

“Where is the essential money gonna go? Personally I think the money should go back  towards the personal protection equipment. It’s a good long lasting resource, something that can be used during the coronavirus.”

Many supporters of the CARES Act want the money to go directly to front line workers in the form of payments. But with there being so many types of workers still employed and the line blurred between who is and isn’t essential, divvying up the money can be a challenge if it’s used that way.

“I just think there’s a variety of heroes. And when you take $100,000 and you start splitting it up, that money’s gonna go quickly. By the time you get down, what do you wanna do, give everyone a dollar? It’s not gonna work. So you have to categorize that.”

With more than 50,000 people in Mercer County, many of whom are still working essential jobs, dividing up $100,000 for direct payments might not be too likely. And if that is the route the county eventually goes, it will likely be given to only certain subgroups of workers like healthcare or retail employees. 

Each of the 55 counties were given grants for hero pay, and each can choose how to use it on their own terms. 

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