In the face of heavy pressure, sometimes bordering threatening behavior, from ultra-conservative activists, the Kerr County Commissioner's Court said it would not return $10 million in federal COVID-19 funds with a 4-1 vote on Monday morning.
Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly said his decision came from conversations with the "silent majority" of voters, who urged him to consider taking the money. Kelly has made it clear; he expects to potentially spend the American Recovery Plan Act funds fixing the contaminated dirt floor at the Hill Country Youth Event Center or earmarking it for a new Sheriff's Office communications system.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz, who said he's no fan of President Joe Biden, made it clear that Kerr County accepts federal funding regularly with "strings attached."
The court has repeatedly addressed the issue and is the last local agency to decide whether to accept the ARPA funds or send them back. Precinct 1 Commissioner Harley Belew said to give the money back because he doesn't trust Biden.
While Precinct 4 Commissioner Don Harris placed the item on the court's agenda, he sided with Letz, Kelly, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Beck Gibson to not rescind the court's order to accept the funding.
"I'm not for sending it back today," Harris said. "Things are fluid. We could get a new house and senate and a new president before this deadline (to accept or spend the money). I'm pumping the brakes."