Newest COVID-19 relief bill provides direct funding for localities

MERCER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Mercer County is expected to receive more than $11 million from the new COVID-19 relief package.

This is the first bill to include direct relief for localities. Bluefield is one city to get some funding, expected to receive more than $4 million split over two years. 

“We’re obviously pleased to receive these funds and be thought of in this way,” said City Attorney Colin Cline. “Bluefield, like lots of communities in Appalachia, has some pretty serious needs. Both from an infrastructure and economic development perspective.”

What the money can and can’t be spent on isn’t known yet, it’s still being worked out by the Department of the Treasury. What cities do know is the funds can be used for loss reimbursements, pandemic expenses and some infrastructure projects.

Bluefield has some ideas in the works, but they’re waiting for more guidance before moving ideas to the council.

“We implement the policies they set, and we’ll come to them with some ideas, but even our ability to present ideas to the board will depend on the parameters the state sets for use of the money.”

The City of Princeton is also receiving direct funding from the bill. City Manager Mike Webb says the city is ecstatic to get direct relief.

“As it stands, Princeton is set to receive $2.3M from the latest stimulus money,” Webb said. “And we’re still waiting on guidelines as to what we can use that for, but we’re excited to get it.”

Princeton also isn’t sure what they can spend the money on just yet, but they are leaning towards infrastructure.

“It can be arranged, anywhere from stormwater especially that’s needed in the city, to demolition projects, to paving. It really is a range of projects that we can look towards with this funding.”

The direct funding comes with more leeway compared to previous COVID relief bills. Funds are going directly to towns in need and it doesn’t need to be spent right away either.

Recipients will have until 2024 to spend the money, leaving room more long-term projects that will help build up communities over time.

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