Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Marc Elrich defended his administration’s handling of millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 aid days after the county council criticized his office for failing to get assistance to residents in need sooner.
During Thursday’s weekly briefing on COVID-19, Elrich was asked why just $607,000 of $20 million in rent relief and eviction prevention had been spent.
“I used to be a legislator, and it’s the best job in the world because you can just say, ‘I want to spend this money,’ and tell someone to go spend it. And you don’t actually figure out how to do it,” Elrich said.
“If we don’t do this right, and we get audited by the federal government for the CARES Act spending, and we do not spend money on eligible people, then we are going to be responsible for paying back that money,” he said.
Elrich also said that applications for aid had to be vetted.
“I”ll note that of about the first 1,100 applications or so, half of them were ineligible,” saying some did not experience income loss and others did not meet income eligibility guidelines.
Elrich said he had been updating the members of the county council by sending them a weekly spreadsheet, which he said they have been getting for weeks now.
On Tuesday, council members made clear they wanted more communication. Council member Craig Rice called the suggestion that members had all the information in the weekly documents “flippant.”
“”That’s not how this works,” Rice said, explaining that better communication could allow for more collaboration on processing aid.
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