By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
HERMANN — As the Gasconade County Commission decides how to use the remaining CARES Act dollars by June 1, it will begin preparing to allocate an even larger amount of federal money that it reportedly will receive through the latest coronavirus-induced stimulus package.
And all of this is happening as county government in on a pace — at least through the first three months of the year — to post a record level of sales tax revenue.
It was a double dose of good financial news for county government Thursday morning as County Treasurer Mike Feagan reported the March General Revenue Fund sales tax reimbursement of $92,600 – almost $9,000 more than the amount received in March of last year. This was the third straight month that the sales tax revenue topped the amount received in the corresponding month a year ago. At this point, sales tax revenue is running almost $20,300 ahead of the cumulative amount received in 2020.
Last year ended with Gasconade County receiving $1,037,402 — the largest amount of sales tax ever, topping 2019’s total of $1,006,640.
“We didn’t do too bad this month,” Feagan told the Commission, noting that the total for the first three months is “head and shoulders” above the amount received in the same period a year ago. Indeed, the amounts received last year in January and March were substantially below the amounts received in the same months in 2019 while last February’s sales tax check was only $2,200 larger than the February 2019 check. However, the monthly sales tax checks began getting larger in April and the sustained growth enabled the county to significantly top the $1-million mark by year’s end.
County officials hope retail sales remains strong the rest of this year. “This year it’s been good,” Feagan said. “Hopefully, the trend will continue,” he said.
For the first three months this year, the General Revenue Fund sales tax total is $252,394, compared to $232,102 received in the first three months of 2020.
The second shot of good news came from Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, who announced that the county is scheduled to receive $2,852,138 as its share of the $1.9-trillion stimulus package adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. That compares to the $1.725-million allotment the county received from the $2.2-trillion CARES Act approved a year ago.
Yet to be allocated out of the CARES Act money is $67,000. Some of that will be spent on public health-related measures in the courthouse while some of the dollars likely will be distributed to businesses and non-profit groups looking to recoup losses as a result of the pandemic and public service agencies applying for reimbursement for coronavirus-related expenses.
The Commission Thursday morning approved the bid from Maciejewski Plumbing & Heating of Owensville to obtain and install two new drinking fountains for $1,650 each. The fountains can be operated with a knee rather than with a hand. The fountains also will feature a bottle-filling station. How the new stimulus money will be allocated is unclear. County officials are awaiting further word on the guidelines for dispersing the funds.
Meanwhile, municipalities will be receiving directly a share of the new money, rather than having to apply for reimbursement as they did for CARES Act funds. Here are the cities and the amounts they are scheduled to receive: Bland, $97,251; Gasconade, $39,600; Hermann, $431,367; Rosebud, $74,596; Owensville, $477,046, and Morrison, $23,944.40.
Other municipalities in the area and funding they are scheduled to receive include Belle, $272,413.55; Chamois, $69,807.12, Gerald, $241,838.40; Linn, $293,410.94; Village of Leslie, $31,311.90; New Haven, $381,636.83; Vienna, $109,407.47, Meta, $40,521.28, Argyle, $29,470.03, and Westphalia, $69,807.12.