Wichita Falls, Wichita County, plans to spend federal money on COVID-19

Prosecutors outline the financial case of the campaign against Lev Parnas as the criminal trial begins

Wichita County Commissioners began discussing their share Friday. The county receives $26.5 million, including $10 million the federal government tacked on for lost revenue.

The American Rescue Plan was signed into law in March and the Treasury Department came out with final rules on spending the money this week. The act allocated $350 billion to state and local governments. The final rules give local government wider latitude on spending their money.

Highlights

  • “I do not see how that can be interpreted by the taxpaying public as anything proper. Can you explain to me how that benefits a married couple that’s making $30,000 a year, they got laid off, they’re struggling to pay their taxes, their appraisal went up on their house, their taxes have gone up, their insurance has gone up? Our employees here at the county never missed a payday,”  I believe it would bite the (commissioners’) court in the rear by doing it,” Fincannon said.

  • County Judge Woody Gossom said preliminary discussions have ranged from providing county employees retention pay for staying on the job to construction projects. The possibility of giving one-time bonuses between $1,000 and $2,500 raised the hackles of Commissioner Mickey Fincannon.

The City of Wichita Falls gets $29 million, which would include the lost revenue money. City Manager Darron Leiker said his staff is still digesting the 400+ page final rule from the Department of Treasury and hopes to present councilors with eligible options and recommendations within the next few months. 

Although broad in scope, usage of federal dollars is aimed at water, sewer and broadband expansion and commissioners discussed how it might help road and courthouse improvements. The county has already spent about $1.7 million of its allotment.

Leiker said he anticipates water or sewer infrastructure will be part of the plan, but the spending deadlines may preclude use of the money for the Lake Ringgold project. The council has already earmarked some of the money for the water system.

He also said the city will look at formulas to get the maximum from the lost revenue funding.