CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — The CARES Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, a $2.4 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill that brought $5.4 million dollars to Camden County. The funding was designed to help the local economy weather the coronavirus pandemic by providing support to small businesses, nonprofits, hospitals, schools and government entities.
But how did Camden County use those funds?
In short, government entities used 60% of total CARES Act funds, followed by schools at 13%, small businesses 12%, non-profit community service organizations 8%, medical 7%. Here's a more detailed breakdown...
Government entities received $3.7 million dollars, 60% of total funds from the CARES Act, and 49% of these funds ($1.6 million) went to the Camden County law enforcement and courts.
Of that $1.6 million, 46% ($751,737 in total) went to installing Polycom, a new audio/video system that allows the court system to continue to function and allow for social distancing. According to documents from the Camden auditor’s office, this new infrastructure will have uses outside of the pandemic since it offers a way for prisoners to communicate remotely with the justice system instead of traveling directly.
The other 53% went towards replacing the County Sheriff’s radio system. Although the former radio system was functional, it was not equipped with MOSWIN (Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network) trunking which allows for communication between the County Sheriff’s radio and other responding agencies. The new radios also increased coverage for areas of Camden County that don’t have cell service.
“The federal government actually sent a new directive down to local governments including our government that specifically listed this as an item that was covered by CARES Act funding. So we had documentation that this is one of the essential things that we covered,” said Presiding Camden Commissioner, Greg Hasty.
Schools in the county received received 13% ($680,694) of CARES Act funding. All public schools in Camden county received funding, as well as Richland and School of the Osage, which receive students from Camden County. Camdenton R-III School district received a bulk of the funding at 53% ($363,539), followed by Mack’s Creek R-V School with 19% ($131,902), Stoutland R-II School 10% ($69,991), School of the Osage 8% ($50,941) and Richland C-V School and Springs R-IV School both received 5% ($30,272 and $34,048 respectively)
Funding was determined based on the enrollment of students that were county residents as well as funding requests made by the schools. The majority of the school districts also applied for state DESE matching grants of CARES funds that required county-matching funds and all schools that applied received matching grants. The county says the funds went toward aiding schools in remaining open and in defraying the costs from spring/summer closure.
Small businesses received 12% of the total CARES Act funding with the total coming to $665,357. The county enlisted local chambers of commerce (Camdenton, Lake Ozark and Lake West) to publicize and promote small business grants. Out of a total of 84 applications, 71 were approved and 13 denied because of inadequate documentation or inadequate completion of the applications. Roughly 41% of the applications were non-chamber members and 36% of the money awarded was to non-chamber members roughly totaling over $237,000.
“I was really thrilled at the number of people that applied,” Hasty said.
Some of the larger recipients included RJ’s Family Restaurant, Ozarks Amphitheater, Precision Fiberglass, and Driftwood Spa and Salon.
Much of the funding went towards PPE supplies, creating barriers to allow for social distancing. The businesses that needed economic support went towards utilities, mortgage payments, and rent. No revenue reimbursement was allowable.
Non-profits received 8% of CARES Act funding, the total coming to a little under half a million dollars ($439,557). Organizations that received money include food banks, homeless shelters, senior centers, animal shelters and sanctuaries. Loss of donations was an allowable CARES guidelines along with all food and related necessities of the organization like utilities, rent, etc.
Some of the non-profits that received the most money include the Osage Beach Senior Center ($80,000), Dogwood Animal Shelter ($72,934), Mack’s Creek Senior Center ($37,270) and the Stoutland Senior Center ($35,636)
The county received only two applications for medical CARES Act funding: Medical Missions for Christ and Lake Regional Hospital. Those two collectively received 7% of the total funding at $375,661. Lake Regional used the money for a Critical Care Ambulance that would be used to transport COVID and critical care patients to keep an existing ambulance from being taken out of regular service and dedicated to COVID cases.
Medical Missions for Christ offers free medical care to Lake of the Ozarks residents who are uninsured or have a household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. All services are provided by volunteers including primary medical care, basic dental services and eye exams.