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Keeping an eye on relief funds

Given the enormous sums of money promised by the federal government over the past year, it is understandable if our state’s municipalities are feeling like they’re in the deep end of the pool when it comes to the millions upon millions headed their way. As part of the American Rescue Plan signed in March, $677 million will come to West Virginia’s municipal governments. That is in addition to any funding that came from last year’s CARES Act.

State Auditor J.B. McCuskey is offering a tool to help local officials keep track of all that money, through the West Virginia Checkbook program. “This technology is going to enable us to — in a very streamlined and uniform way — have all the cities and counties reporting back to us,” McCuskey said. “How the money was spent, what category it was spent in and (we will) provide them guidance absent from very expensive consultants.”

To some municipalities, that kind of help is appealing. To others, it may come across as state meddling and too many eyes on what they are doing.

When it comes to taxpayer money, however, there is no such thing as too many eyes on how it is being spent.

“This is the first time in the history of the United States that every little town and city has a chance to control their own destiny and fix things without a litany of bureaucracy,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told another media outlet recently.

It is important, then, that McCuskey’s plan does not become a hindrance. Instead, it must truly be a tool for ensuring our money is being used properly, at all levels of government.

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