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The City of Baker has added approximately $170,000 in unused CARES Act COVID-19 funding to the city’s general fund, according to the city treasurer.

However, the guidelines governing its uses and restrictions have not been announced yet, treasurer/clerk Kevin Dukart said.

“We did get some CARES money and it went directly into the general fund,” he explained. “We haven’t heard anything from the state on what that can be spent for, but it is in our general fund as a revenue.

“So, we’ll budget that until the upcoming year when we start our budgets in July or August.”

The Federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) was passed in March 2020 as a way to provide economic assistance to American workers, families and small businesses, in addition to help preserve jobs throughout the country.

“So far, we – the city –  have received approximately $170,000.” he said. However, Dukart has said there have been no guidelines supplied on what that money may be used for – from the state and other levels.

“We’ll find out during the budget time. Because it is in our general fund, that to me says it can be spent for any general fund purpose. That is all I have to go on until I hear anything different.

Obviously, that is not my decision anyway. That is the decision of the city council when they set the budget for next year,” he explained.

Having unused CARES funding is not unique to Baker, he said. “I am sure that almost every other community and county (in the state) that has gotten money from them is in the same situation as we are.”

“Each of those government agencies are deciding how to handle the CARES Act money in their own ways,” he said.

Right now, Dukart is waiting for the state to come up with the guidelines on how to handle or use the money remaining from the CARES Act funding. “I doubt that it will go through the state legislature. I think it will be handled administratively through whatever administration that will be responsible for the CARES money,” Dukart explained.

COVID hours

Another aspect of CARES related monies was focused on up to about 80 hours of paid leave tied to COVID-related services through December of 2020.

“We are looking at the possibility of drafting a policy, since COVID is still prevalent, that any employee who has not used that 80 hours through the end of December 2020, that they could use any remaining ones (hours) into 2021,” he said. “It deals with employee leave, not overtime.”

“That is just a local decision. It will be a policy decision from the city council. There is nothing that the state would have to be done, that we know of yet. We don’t know if the federal government is going to come out with anything fixed in that or something for that particular declaration,” he added.

As of yet, Dukart said he has yet to see anything in the proposed bill going through Congress at present that will have or change the ways to handle the current COVID funding the city has.

“I haven’t seen any of the details on that,” he added.

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