Cooper County now has the ability to assist municipalities and and other government entities after receiving just over $2 million from the coronavirus relief bill signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund with $150 billion appropriated to the fund. The funds will be used to make payments for specified uses to states and certain local governments.

Cooper County will receive $2.07 million. Guidance was issued April 22 on fund use for state, local, territory and tribal governments. That guidance was minimal and so the Cooper County Commmission is working with an attorney on more concrete advice, Presiding Commissioner Don Baragary said.

"There is so much gray area," he said. "Ihave been telling some public entities that there is money that they will be allocated, but there’s so many unknowns yet that it’s not going to be tomorrow."

Allocations are expected to roll out from the county to municipalities and other political subdivisions in June or July. There is money for direct expenses related to COVID-19, Baragary said.

There will be an application process and a contract process with entities such as fire districts, ambulance districts and all the city health departments. School district could be involved, but they have separate avenues from which to seek relief funds, Baragary said.

The allocations cannot replace lost revenue, but can be used for any expenses above normal county expenses incurred since March 27. The county allocation then can be appropriated to the various political subdivisions throughout the county.

"It’s a reimbursement program so [I urged entities] to keep good track of their expenses on this," he said. "There are a lot of stipulations whether it was in the budget, whether it was not in the budget type thing."

The county is facing a lot of unknowns and wants to spend the money in the right way and for what it is meant.

The county’s share was based on its 2019 population. The only Missouri counties to receive an allocation directly from the U.S. Treasury Department were Jackson and St. Louis. This is because their populations have more than 500,000 people. Cooper County has 17,709 residents, so it received a .4% share, excluding the Jackson and St. Louis County figures.

In comparison, Boone County will receive $21,171.910, a 4.06% share; Pettis County $4,967,210, a .95% share; Saline County $2,670,320, a .51% share; Moniteau County $1,892,606, a .36% share; and Howard County $1,173,317, a .23% share. These figures all all exclusive of Jackson and St. Louis counties.

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