City Receives First Half of Federal Coronavirus Relief
City officials are in the process of determining how the City Council may spend $51.7 million in federal pandemic relief money, but they do not expect to make a final determination until the U.S. Treasury Department publishes the final rules later this summer.
The city recently received $25.86 million as the first half of the money coming from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The other half is scheduled to be provided in May 2022. Money for the fund was included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that Congress passed in March. Initially the city was told it would receive $55.1 million, but later this was adjusted to $51.7 million.
The Treasury Department is currently accepting comments on the interim – or draft – final rules on how the money can be spent. Final rules are scheduled to be announced in August, at which time the city will know for sure how it can – and cannot – spend the money.
As drafted, the interim final rules require that the money be spent substantially for coronavirus response, prevention and mitigation. However, the rules allow cities to provide money, under certain circumstances, to community agencies for one-time “transformational” projects.
The interim rules expand the city’s ability to spend the money on programs related to health care, housing, education, and child services in lower-income, underserved communities to address problems that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
- The interim rules retain the city’s ability to use the money for utility-related purposes such as water, sewer and broadband projects. Stormwater projects may be eligible as well.
- The rules state that the money cannot be used to reduce the tax rate, cannot be used to delay new taxes or tax increases, and cannot be deposited in pension funds.
- More information about the relief fund, and about other pandemic-relief programs that businesses and individuals may be eligible to apply for, is posted at CityofWS.org/COVID-19resources.