On Your Side: Tracking pandemic relief in Greene County

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:56 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Greene County Commissioners are trying to figure out what to do with $57 million. That’s how much money the county is getting from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“At the end of the day, we want to look five years from now and say how did Greene County, all of us, use that money to respond to our community?” asked Lyle Foster.

Foster is a consultant for Greene County. He’s managing this project for around $60,000 a year. He’s paid from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“I think the first part of transparency is just to explain the decision-making process. I think when people don’t agree with you if they know how you arrived at the decision, that’s very helpful,” he said.

Residents in Greene County were asked to participate in a survey and identify high-priority needs.

“Obviously we won’t be spending money in the 66 categories, but let’s identify 10-15 priorities that our community is saying this is where we are hurting,” said Foster.

Mental health and affordable housing topped the list. For those living in the county, small business assistance, and broadband are priorities.

Ashley Reynolds asked, “How do you know who submitted in that survey actually live in Greene County?”

“We don’t know,” said Foster. “From my vantage point, we consider this to be a snapshot survey. We didn’t want to invest in a lot of resources and time. We used an online survey instrument instead of using information services, or the information systems department to develop something specific. So we recognize you could go in and do it again. Do it two or three times, but we still felt it was going to give us a snapshot of what our community was actually thinking,” he said.

There were more than 1,700 responses and about 650 written comments.

“Some of them wrote a full paragraph. They took it fairly seriously. We were pleasantly surprised,” said Foster.

Besides the survey, county leaders are doing listening tours with nonprofits and small businesses.

“Greene County wants to be careful we are not just replacing revenue. We are also looking at responding to community needs. That’s why we are trying to make sure when the money goes out, it has the most intended impact,” said Foster.

The next step is presenting the ‘needs assessment’ to the commission. That will happen in the next few weeks. There will also be a hotline you can call to ask questions. Also, on the back end of this, there’s an accountability process. Those who get money must prove how they spent it.

Both the city and county will be audited. On Your Side will track pandemic relief to make sure this money is used wisely.

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