By Ray King

By a vote of 7-5 on Tuesday night, the Jefferson County Quorum Court tabled legislation that would have taken money from the American Rescue Plan to compensate families who lost a loved one due to COVID.

In a repeat of a program County Judge Gerald Robinson put in place last year, Robinson proposed taking $300,000 of the federal money and using it for eligible widows, widowers or dependent of parents who died from COVID.

The opposition was led by Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll whose complaints included disparities among people receiving money under the previous program and a lack of knowledge of the criteria that Robinson used in deciding who would get money.

Robinson was asked about the criteria after the meeting ended.

Asked after the meeting if the meeting if the criteria could be changed to satisfy some of the complaints of JP’s, Robinson said the criteria in use now has already been approved by state and federal authorities and a change could set back efforts.

In addition to Carroll, Justices of the Peace Fisher, Dumas, Gaddy, and Reginald Johnson voted to table the proposal while Justice of the Peace Agee, Byrd, Daniels, Holcomb and Patricia Johnson voted not to table. 13th member of the county’s legislative body, Ted Harden, was acting as chairman of the budget and finance committee and did not vote.

After the meeting, an obviously unhappy Robinson wasted no time in criticism of Carroll’s action.

Although that portion of Robinson’s proposal failed, the Quorum Court did recommend that American Rescue Plan money be used to pay $9,037.25 to Regional Planning, $8,930 to beautification facilities and $19,864 to the Economic Development District.

Also recommended for approval was money to pay jury fees.