Courtesy Endless Mountains Media Services
The Wyoming County Commissioners are extending the application period for their COVID-19 Relief Block Grant program to Friday, Aug. 28. The state has made $2.4-million in federal funds available to Wyoming County, and the commissioners are administering the program with the DCED to assist companies with less than 100 employees that lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns.
“We’ve gotten a rash of late entries and a lot of questions,” said commissioner chair Rick Wilbur. The board had been challenged to get answers from the state level, and it seemed that the rules were changing daily due to conflicts between federal and state versions of the relief package.
“It was put together very quickly,” Wilbur noted, “And we want to make sure we get everything right.”
Nonprofit groups with 501-c3 status, veterans organizations, and tourism agencies are also eligible to apply. Municipalities, can recoup costs for direct expenses like modifications like safety shields and cleaning services procured to meet CDC guidelines, but not lost revenue.
As of Aug. 14, the commissioners had 122 applications that appeared to be eligible for funding. They expect a few more to trickle in since they have been able to provide more clarification for applicants. Also, because there is less money available than what businesses are claiming in losses, “We need the magic formula to make sure that each applicant gets a fair percentage,” Wilbur remarked. “We’ll get that figured out over the next two weeks.”
Interested readers can request an application via email at WeCARE@wycopa.org. The commissioners emphasize that “less is better” when filling out the application. The responsibility is on the entity, they noted, for maintaining their own records of loss for audit purposes.
The DCED will have the responsibility of auditing, and recipients of funds will be asked to sign a form that will serve as a legal agreement that the information provided with the application is true and correct to the best of their knowledge.
The board simply needs to know the estimated loss and whether or not the business or non-profit has already participated in other government programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, also known as PPP. Even those entities that did receive assistance from other sources are encouraged to apply since the PPP is being re-evaluated, and those who received less assistance than their total loss may still be eligible.
The federal government allotted $5.3-billion to Pennsylvania as part of the Federal CARES Act. The largest counties in state are dealing directly with the federal government, while the smaller ones assume the responsibility of how to manage the program at the local level.
The primary goal of the commissioners is to prevent small businesses in the county from closing by providing some financial assistance as well as additional resources that might be accessed. Secondly, they share a great concern for fire companies, soup kitchens, cultural hubs, family service agencies and other non-profits that have been unable to conduct annual fundraising events and which might be overwhelmed with clients due to the shutdowns.