County officials in the region are waiting for federal guidance on grants for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dent County’s presiding commissioner said Monday.

Darrell Skiles said several sets of frequently asked questions about the CARES Act have been sent out by federal officials, but some details remain to be clarified.

Skiles and associate commissioners Dennis Purcell and Gary Larson attended a meeting at the Phelps County courthouse last week hosted by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission. Attendees heard from Missouri Association of Counties attorney Travis Elliott and others about the CARES Act.

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“They’re still putting out FAQs and clarifying information and making some changes as they go along,” Skiles said. “But I think we’re pretty close to being able to proceed with the small business part of this thing to get it out there and help these businesses with some money they badly need. But there’s still some questions to be answered on what falls within that umbrella of what we can do.”

He said many counties are setting up a maximum amount of money they’re setting aside for small business grants and designating what they want to qualify as small business in their area and the maximum a business can get.

“We’ll get that figured out sometime soon and hopefully get that out so small businesses can benefit,” Skiles said. An auditor for MPRC at the meeting gave good guidance, Purcell said. Different auditors see the information differently, Skiles said.

“That’s based on what getting from the feds, and what they’re getting from the feds is still pretty hazy,” he said.

Later in the meeting, Bonnie Prigge and Kelly Sink-Blair with MRPC addressed the commission about the CARES Act and CARES Small Business Relief Program. The commission discussed a Dent County Small Business Relief Program for businesses having 30 or less full-time employees, expenses that occurred due to COVID-19 from March 1 through Dec. 31 and documented loss of revenue levels.

Businesses would have to complete a W-9 tax form along with their application. It would be set at a $20,000 maximum for each business. MRPC will work up an application and the commission will review it before taking action.

• In her report, county clerk Angie Curley said testing on voting equipment for the Aug. 4 primary is set for 9 a.m. July 22 in the clerk’s office. July 8 is the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 4 primary and voters have to choose a party ballot. Voting is from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. She reminded voters to bring identification when they go to the polls and to update any information on their voter registration before election day.

She said mail-in and absentee ballots are now available. Last day to request a mail-in ballot is July 22. Although mail-in ballots must be notarized, she pointed out that voting is private. Voters take a sealed, completed ballot to a notary, show ID and sign an affidavit on the back of the envelope attesting that that ballot inside is theirs, Curley said.

In other business:

• financing bids were opened on the lease/purchase of the two new state bid sheriff patrol cars for a total of $84,000 over three years with the first payment due at time of purchase. The bid went to Progressive Ozark Bank with an interest rate 2.5 percent and a $100 fee.

• Nick Smith with Septagon Construction Management gave a jail update. The revised budget came in at $12,948,443. Funds left to cover the cost of the jail totaled $1,161,979.

The requisition for payments includes the $29,985 to CenturyLink for relocation of lines and cannot be paid until the company forwards a W-9 tax form to Septagon Construction, Smith said.

• Under commission reports, Purcell said First District crews would be grading county roads 5130, 5490, 5550, 5630 and 6580 and performing service on brush cutter No. 8. Larson said Second District crews would be grading county roads 2330 and 5320, hauling material to 2330 and cutting brush on 4290. One member was going to Springfield to get oil for repairing chip and seal roads.