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Polk County receives $4 million from CARES Act

Jess Bengtson
jbengtson@crookstontimes.com

    Polk County received almost $4 million in funds from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2020 in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and they are looking into how and where they can and will spend the funds. County Administrator Chuck Whiting told the Times they’re looking into covering pandemic-related expenses and will be reviewing federal guidelines to determine where else the money could go.

    The county received precisely $3,996,701, said Whiting, and cities and townships also received CARES Act funds so the county will be looking to avoid duplicating where funds are spent.

    When looking at the county’s 2021 budget, Whiting added that it’s still “very early yet” as departments have just started to look at expenses, but the Board of Commissioners direction is to “approach the budget conservatively.”

    “We’ll know more in a month when we can compile initial budgets and pare them down,” Whiting explained.

    The Polk County Board of Commissioners met last week and denied two tax abatement requests from I.C. Muggs and Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream after last month denying two additional requests from RBJ’s Restaurant and Drafts Sports Bar & Grill. When asked about the requests, Whiting told the Times the tax abatement requests cannot be granted according to the Department of Revenue’s reading of statutes.

    “There may be some other options we can come up with as counties around the state to figure this out,” he added. “It is not as straightforward as I hoped it would be.”

    When asked if some of the CARES Act money could go toward those business’ requests, Whiting said they’re looking into it while they wait for state and AMC guidance.