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Blue Springs moves ahead with COVID-19 relief funds

By Mike Genet

The city of Blue Springs is working through final approval from Jackson County for its CARES Act spending plan, though a portion of the more than $3.3 million in funds will be reimbursements for prior costs.

The largest portion, $1.65 million, is for compliance with public health measures – a small portion for medical leave for employees but mostly for social distancing and protective measures in City Hall and for technology to assist employees working from home.

The city has set aside $250,000 to work with local social service agencies on utility payment assistance for citizens. City staff estimate they can help 1,250 households with an average of $200.

Jackson County received $122.7 million in federal CARES Act funds back in the spring, and the County Legislature allocated nearly $40 million for cities, contingent on approving the cities’ spending plans. From that nearly $40 million, Blue Springs received $3,327,234. Independence received $6.9 million and has already been approved.

CARES Act funds must be used for expenses incurred because of the pandemic and not budgeted prior to that. They must also be spent or under contract by the end of 2020.

Also in Blue Springs’ spending plan, which the City Council approved in September:

• $425,000 for public health expenses, such as acquiring and distributing cleaning, medical and personal protection supplies.

• $675,000 for payroll expenses with public safety to mitigate spread of COVID-19, including some costs projected through the end of the year.

• $100,000 for professional assistance with an economic recovery plan.

• $277,324 in contingency, to help with unplanned or additional costs.