Carper: Kanawha County needs the CARES Act funding or services will be cut

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission has submitted a grant application to the state for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act funding.

Commission President Kent Carper appeared on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ to discuss how the virus has affected the county which has resulted in lost revenues in excess of $1.6 million and more than $1.5 million in expenses directly attributable to COVID-19.

The CARES Act provided more than $2 trillion in economic relief, including a direct payment of $1.25 billion to the State of West Virginia. Local governments around the state were able to file CARES grant applications on Friday evening.

Expenses in the county due to COVID-19 have been about safety, Carper said. The county has purchased six locally made machines at $2,400 each that is meant to take temperatures before people can enter a building. He said that is what helped stop a spread at the Metro 911 center last week.

Other spending, according to him, included $70,000 cleaning the judicial building after an outbreak of the virus in March.

“Someone said ‘Why would you do that for?'” Well at the time it was absolutely unknown how long the virus would stay on the surface. We were trying to reenter the building so we hired a professional cleaning service,” Carper said on ‘Talkline.’

“Today we would probably use the Guard. Today we might do something different but that wasn’t today that was two months ago.”

Carper added that if the county does not get some money to offset the loss, drastic measures may be taken. Local governments are supposed to respond with non-budgeted items that had to be paid for.

“At some point we will have to do what they are doing in Hancock County, what they have done in Fairmont and other places. There would be a reduction in government services that will be hurtful to public safety,” he said.

He said businesses in his county were on a razor-thin margin before the pandemic hit and this has made it much worse. Carper said while he hopes he is wrong, he could see nearly 20 percent of businesses having a tough time even reopening.

“The service industry is the one that has been hit the worst. The question is how long will it take them to come back, will they come back or will they go out of business creating eventually more empty buildings. Let’s face it, we were in tough times before this,” Carper said.