State Sen. Caleb Rowden is sharply criticizing the Boone County Commission’s handling of funds meant to help cover costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Boone County’s online CARES relief portal has fallen behind,” Rowden wrote in a statement Friday. “Over three months after receiving CARES Act relief funds from the state, the county has still not made those dollars available to help struggling Mid-Missourians.”
Rowden joins a number of critics, including city officials, who believe the county has taken too long to disperse the $21.2 million in federal funds. The state distributed the money, funneling it through county commissions. County leaders have said they have been waiting to create an online portal to accept and evaluate requests, according to previous Missourian reporting.
“After numerous conversations with local leaders, community members and county officials, I’m calling on the Boone County Commission to adapt and expedite the distribution of the millions of dollars in CARES Act relief funds sent to them by the State of Missouri,” Rowden wrote. “Our Boone County Commission must ensure that these dollars are immediately available for those that need it today, not tomorrow.”
Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson took issue with Rowden’s criticism.
“We have distributed almost $2 million to the city-county Health Department to pay for additional contact tracers and additional testing for folks who are uninsured or underinsured,” Thompson said. “We’ve distributed funding for 1,345 hot spots for school districts in Boone County.”
Thompson said more is coming soon.
“We’ll be opening the portal for applications, probably on Monday,” she said.
Thompson also questioned whether Rowden had done his homework.
“Perhaps Sen. Rowden should actually contact the Boone County Commission to find out exactly what we’re doing,” Thompson said. “That would be my first comment, because I don’t think he has made those inquiries.”
When asked by the Missourian, Rowden said his office has been in touch with the commission.
“Just this week the county missed another deadline, that they set mind you, for the application portal to be complete,” Rowden said. KRCG previously reported that the county set an Aug. 31 deadline.
“Families and non-profits are struggling, businesses are failing, and we are seeing in counties all around the state that these dollars can help make a difference if they are distributed.
“The commission needs to take action immediately,” he said, “and my office is available to help in any way possible to help expedite the process.”