Local Cities Receive COVID-19 Relief Money
Local cities will receive a boost thanks to nearly $600 million in aid. The money is part of the state’s allocation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
Local governments could begin applying for aid on June 26, with applications being submitted to the Minnesota Department of Revenue for approval. The department received and approved certifications for 64 counties, and 196 cities and townships by June 29. The state has allocated more than $596 million so far. If the money allocated to the city or municipality is not used by Dec. 10, it goes back to the state. You can read the full report here.
How much can each city receive? It’s based on a formula determined by the state legislature.
Money to be Used for New Ventilation Systems, Personal Protective Equipment, and More
Golden Valley was approved for $1.6 million. The city plans to spend at least part of the funds on specialized ventilation systems for city buildings.
“We just got the ball rolling,” said Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris. “It doesn’t mean we get it. We have the ability to use up to $1.6 million and get reimbursed for it.”
The specialized ventilation systems will be installed in city hall and the public safety building and perhaps even buildings like Brookview.
However, Harris says cities are being cautious about using the funds.
“They are looking at federal guidance because what they don’t want to have happen is they spend all this money and then the federal government comes down through an audit and basically says, no you actually couldn’t do that, so you now owe us that money back,” explained Harris. “So we’re treading carefully on some items.”
New Hope also received $1.6 million and deposited the funds into a separate account that the city will use to track the funds for eligible expenses.
One of the eligible expenses the city is currently exploring is potential loans or grants for small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic. In a release to CCX News, New Hope says they will explore expenses like public safety payroll for first responders, staff time spent on duties related to the pandemic, personal protective equipment, disinfection of public facilities, installation of protective barriers and technology equipment purchased to allow employees to work from home during the pandemic.
The city is also exploring potential loans or grants for small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic, like restaurants, fitness centers, hair and nail salons.
New Hope notes that the funds cannot be used for lost revenues due to the closure of facilities, but they have been tracking costs since mid-March and will be requesting reimbursement in the future.
New Hope also plans to submit reimbursement requests to FEMA.
Plymouth will use the CARES funding for reimbursing extra staff expenses, technology to provide for remote work accommodations, software/technology to provide remote access and customer service for the public, and supplies such as masks, acrylic barriers, and cleaning products. They also likely to offer a business assistance program. The city council will discuss the funding during the council meeting on July 28 and maybe August 11.
Some Cities Anticipating Aid
Brooklyn Park has submitted paperwork and should receive confirmation soon on the amount of money they can spend. The city expects to receive $6.1 million.
“This money would reimburse the city for COVID-19 related expenses that were not included in the 2020 budget. The money will also be used to support local community organizations and businesses that were affected by COVID-19,” explained Camille Hepola, communications manager for Brooklyn Park, in a statement to CCX News.
The money will cover personal protective equipment for police and fire as well as street crews, inspectors and other staff. The city is installing protective barriers in work spaces in city facilities and on front counters. Hepola sasy the money would help cover staff time related to COVID-19 and emergency time off.
“Throughout this whole situation we are and have been thinking about the best ways to keep our community thriving and safe,” said Hepola.