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Elkins seeking input on relief funds

ELKINS — The City of Elkins will be seeking input from both the community and government officials on what to do with the estimated $2.91 million the city is expected to receive from the American Rescue Act.

The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, signed by President Joe Biden last week, is expected to provide $4 billion for the state of West Virginia, including $5.57 million for Randolph County.

The city has not yet received any official guidance concerning allowed uses or other restrictions involving the funding, a City of Elkins press release stated late Monday afternoon.

“This payment is one of the biggest things to happen to Elkins in generations,” Finance Committee Chairman Charlie Friddle said in the release. “We need to think carefully about what the highest and best uses for it would be.

“Frankly, we don’t know any more about this funding than what has appeared in the news,” he said. “The federal government hasn’t communicated with us in any way about this yet, so we really don’t know how this money can be spent.”

American Rescue Act funds for local governments are expected to be disbursed in two payments, one in April and one about a year later, according to statewide organizations and news reports.

“One thing we need to keep in mind is that this is one-time windfall money, not new recurring income,” said Treasurer Tracy Judy. “We need to make sure we don’t spend it in ways that create ongoing costs that would be difficult to cover once it’s gone.”

City officials said past stimulus funding carried significant restrictions.

“CARES Act money could only be spent on very specific categories of pandemic-related costs,” said City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “We don’t know if this funding will be as restricted, and it’ll be a bit of a waiting game before we find out. Remember, CARES Act money took a long time to reach states, and the guidance on how it could be used changed frequently throughout last year.”

“Before finalizing any decisions about this money, officials will seek input from the community at large,” the press release stated. “Officials will also consult with partner agencies and organizations, including the Randolph County Commission, which is reported to be receiving its own $5.6 million disbursement.”

Other towns in Randolph County expected to receive funding include Mill Creek, $290,000; Beverly, $280,000; Coalton, $100,000; Huttonsville, $90,000; and Montrose, $60,000.

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