Reynolds anticipates county getting full $670K reimbursement

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Mississippi County Office of Emergency Management director Wayne Reynolds anticipates the county will have enough COVID-19 related expenditures to be reimbursed the full $670,000 allocated by the state for CARES Act funding.

During Monday’s special Finance Committee meeting, Reynolds told the board he is currently scanning receipts to submit, with the deadline for submittal set for Dec. 15.

“I anticipate the process should not be very difficult to get reimbursement under that,” Reynolds said.

He does not anticipate the county receiving the money before the end of the year, though expects it to hit coffers by early 2021.

County treasurer Peggy Meatte noted the county will need to establish a special fund for the money, which will be reimbursement for expenses directly related to the pandemic.

Justice of the Peace Neil Burge said the state is supposed to disburse the money by a certain date, though he is unsure exactly what that date is.

Justice of the Peace Michael White, who chairs the committee, suggested having a proposed ordinance to set up the fund for the board’s review at its regular October monthly meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, the board reviewed the proposed 2021 budgets of the County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Office of Emergency Management and Public Defender’s Office.

It also held a brief discussion on health insurance.

Justices reviewed a chart that compared what the county pays per month, per employee for insurance — $871.63 — with what other counties/cities pay, which ranged from $400 to $615.

Mississippi County pays 100 percent of the employee insurance cost, while those on the chart paid from 67 percent to 100 percent.

For example, Baxter County pays 100 percent of its employee insurance cost, at a rate of $555 per month, per employee.

The city of Blytheville also pays 100 percent of the cost at a rate of $407.10 per employee.

Justice Rick Ash, who is employed by the city of Blytheville, explained several differences between the municipal health policy of the city and the current policy used by the county. Some of the counties on the chart utilize municipal health.

“I’ve had it for over 34 years and I’ve not had any bad luck with it all, ” Ash said.

Burge noted the county’s rate is high because of its loss ratio; for multiple years it had more than $2 million in claims. Meanwhile, while reviewing the proposed OEM budget, justices suggested Reynolds begin looking for a four-wheel drive vehicle to replace the current 2012 Ford Explorer, which has more than 160,000 miles. They asked Reynolds to research potential grants; the current vehicle was funded by a grant.

Reynolds noted because of its age and mileage, maintenance cost will begin to increase on the Explorer.

He said he will need something with four-wheel drive for the dirt roads, as well as the ability to seat four to five people. If there is an emergency, Reynolds will show the damage to a FEMA representative and state officials.

“This is almost like a mobile command center,” White said. “What if we had a major earthquake.”

The committee is expected to meet again next Monday to review more proposed county budgets.