The first coronavirus stimulus checks were approved in March. Since then there have been talks and negotiations on the second checks, but no decision as of yet. In the absence of federal help, some local governments came up with their own stimulus checks. Montgomery County also had plans to issue $500 coronavirus stimulus checks, but the U.S. Treasury, it seems, blocked it.
In June, Montgomery County commissioners unanimously approved a plan to issue coronavirus stimulus checks to the residents. This plan would provide all Montgomery County individuals and entities with 2019 property tax filings with $500 in stimulus checks.
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The plan, proposed by Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, would have used some part of the $105 million funds that the county received under the CARES Act. However, the plan was subject to approval from the U.S. Treasury.
On Monday, Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack announced that the plan to send $500 stimulus checks did not get the written approval from the U.S. Treasury. Noack said the Commissioners Court decided to drop the plan as they were unable to get the written confirmation from the U.S. Treasury.
The confirmation that Commissioners Court needed was that the funds wouldn’t be subject to the clawback provision. As per the clawback provision, if the funds did not fall within the scope of the intended use of those funds, then the local government would bear the responsibility of repaying them to the Treasury.
“I truly believe this money should go back to the taxpayers,” 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.”
Questions over the stimulus plan
Many have criticized the plan as a political ploy and an over-reach by the novice Precinct 3 Commissioner Noack. Moreover, there are also reports that the county was aware of the Treasury’s objection well before the August 24 announcement.
Several county residents said they were already informed by Noack’s office that there wouldn’t be any stimulus checks. Some said they were informed that the proposal was denied by the U.S. Treasury.
"I called [Noack's office]. I was informed by his office that there would not be any checks since approval has not been received because it was not listed correctly; however, they are trying to see if there are any other avenues where we would receive something," one resident said in an email on August 17, according to Community Impact Newspaper.
No coronavirus stimulus checks for Montgomery County residents came as a bit of a surprise. This is because many Oregonians got a one-time $500 stimulus check from the state last week. Oregon’s program also used funds from the CARES Act to give stimulus checks to residents.