Not only has COVID-19 had a devastating impact on Americans’ health, but also on financial security, which is why when the federal government sent $105 million to Montgomery County, Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack immediately sought to find a way to put these funds back into the hands of the taxpayers.
On Tuesday, June 1, the Commissioners Court unanimously approved the plan, pending US Treasury approval, to utilize the CARES Act funds as a local stimulus. Unfortunately, given the lack of commitment from the US Treasury to provide written approval that the $65 million spent on the proposed $500 stimulus would not be subject to a claw back, the Commissioners Court has opted to not move forward with this plan.
“I truly believe this money should go back to the taxpayers,” Commissioner Noack said. “I am very frustrated that we could not get a simple yes or no in writing from the US Treasury, we cannot risk spending $65 million that the county may ultimately be on the hook for.”
There is a claw back provision in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act) funds that states if dollars are spent outside the scope of the intended use of the funds, then local governments are responsible for repaying them.
“While we have done everything in our power to utilize these funds to benefit the people of Montgomery County during this difficult time, without written approval from the U.S. Treasury, this program will not proceed,” County Judge Mark Keough said. “Fortunately, the rental and mortgage assistance program already approved by Commissioners Court will continue.”
Currently, the county has two need-based rent/mortgage/utility/prescriptions assistance programs that are being run through the county’s CDBG Department.
Program 1: Four non-profit organizations were selected to administer $10 million equally among each of the four commissioner precincts. There is no income limit on these funds. Interfaith of The Woodlands is handling Precinct 3’s allocation of $2.5 million.
Program 2: $2.4 million was allocated to benefit low- to moderate-income persons.
You can apply now for assistance at mctx.org/departments/departments_a_-_c/community_development/index.php.
Commissioner Noack and all of the Commissioner’s Court plans to continue looking at ways to put this money where it belongs, with the taxpayers.