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When President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act on Thursday, the bill included $65.1 billion in direct aid to every county in America.

The National Association of Counties estimates Cole County will receive $14.8 million, although that amount was not official as of Friday and is subject to change.

This money can go toward emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, and other housing programs to help families pay rent, mortgages and utilities; small business assistance, including specific programs for restaurants and live venues; and support for health care workers, transportation workers, federal employees and veterans.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury will oversee and administer these payments to state and local governments, and every county will be eligible to receive a direct allocation, according to NACO.

Municipalities and counties will receive funds in two disbursements — 50 percent this year and the remaining 50 percent no earlier than 12 months from the first payment, according to NACO. The U.S. Treasury is required to pay the first portion to counties by 60 days after enactment and the second portion no earlier than 12 months after the first payment. All relief funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2024.

Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman and County Auditor Kristen Berhorst said Friday they are still looking at how distribution of funds will be handled.

"The state treasurer's office will not be involved, from what we've been told," Bushman said. "Last year, I got a call from Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick about when we could expect the CARES money. I have no idea when we'll start seeing our funds in the American Rescue Plan."

Cole County received just more than $9 million last May from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. That money was to be used for costs and expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CARES Act money went to help public and private schools, municipalities, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, health organizations and county government costs. These entities went through an application process with the county, which used a private firm to help set up qualifications to receive money.

Bushman and Berhost said the county will look to have that private accounting firm, Springfield-based BKD, continue to help with the American Rescue Plan Act.

As of Friday, Berhorst said, Cole County has about $200,000 left in its CARES Act fund.

Last month, it was estimated there was around $80,000 left, but Berhorst said the county came in under budget on several projects.

The County Commission decided to use these funds to help pay for extra time employees at the Cole County Health Department have been working during the pandemic in January and February.

The county has until June 30, the end of the state's fiscal year, to spend CARES Act funding.

Bushman said it was his understanding cities would receive American Rescue Plan money directly and would not have to go through an application process as they did to receive CARES Act funding.

Jefferson City is expected to receive more than $7.6 million, according to information released Friday by the Missouri Municipal League.

Centertown is expected to receive $52,861; Lohman, $30,575; Russellville, $151,402; St. Martins, $220,104; St. Thomas, $$9,914; Taos, $212,368; and Wardsville, $287,332.

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