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ETX officials discuss how to spend millions in federal funding

Texarkana

BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – On Monday, Bowie County Commissioners approved a budget outline of how they’d like to spend over $9 million in federal money from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.  

Commissioners want to spend half of the money, $4.5 million, on broadband. “What we’re looking at doing is the feasibility of connecting all the county buildings, and that is something that is specifically listed in the guidance that we can do with fiber optic cable …. and coincidentally it also helps the county with our cybersecurity and changes that we’re looking at making in our network for our IT services,” said Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell.

Howell said commissioners are also considering creating a branch of the county health unit in New Boston and giving essential county workers pandemic pay. The budget outline calls for $500,000 to fund premium pay for essential workers. “This is a starting process,” Howell said. “If we spend more than $50,000 on anything, or like the premium pay, that would come back to a vote for the commissioner’s court.”

The outline assigns over $2 million for the public health response to COVID-19, $500,000 to address the negative economic impact, and $1.5 million to water and sewer infrastructure. “The county doesn’t own any water or sewer infrastructure, but we’re looking at the rules and regulations to see if we’re able to contribute some money to the small, rural water utility companies,” Howell said.

Howell said Bowie County should receive another $9 million in federal COVID-19 funding next year, as well.

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