Some West Virginia localities not panicked over COVID-19 funds from state capital

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CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — Governor Jim Justice has control of over $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The federal formula is that almost half of those dollars go directly to localities. Those with a population of at least a half-million, that is.

But West Virginia doesn’t have any place with that many people. So the funds go to the governor. Some state legislators say they should have a say in doling out the funds. Meanwhile, counties and cities are making plans to spend the money. And in the eastern panhandle community of Charles Town, there is no sign of anxiety.

“Our fiscal policy is we always have three months cash in reserve to pay our bills,” says Mayor Bob Trainor, “in case something like this crisis would happen. That’s a tribute to our finance department, our city manager for setting that up.”

The mayor’s confidence that all cylinders are clicking is amplified by the utilities department in Charles Town. They’re taking care of business and when a check comes from Governor Jim Justice — well, they say that’s all well and good.

“We’ve continued operations throughout this time maintaining billing operations, essential operations for our facilities,” says Kristin Stolipher, assistant utilities manager. “So I attribute that to great staff and great employees here.

And while the West Virginia House of Delegates has enough petition signatures to force that special session, the State Senate is content to let the governor have full discretion over spending the federal dollars.

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