Cities, counties can tap into $300 million

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear announced a $300 million award to city and county governments as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to reimburse local governments for expenses incurred in response to the public health emergency caused by the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

With a new budget year starting July 1, leaders in cities across the state hope some $300 million in federal funds to reimburse for coronavirus-related expenses will help stem the financial red ink.

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Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday the state will start taking applications at 8 a.m. Thursday from cities and counties seeking reimbursement for coronavirus-related expenses.

Beshear said the state hopes “it’s just the first round” of federal money available to local governments.

The reimbursements could cover a wide variety of expenses, from having to buy personal protection equipment for employees and to help businesses and health care outlets, payroll expenses, cleaning buildings, playgrounds, and equipment, equipment for teleworking, to food deliveries among other things.

“We know how important this is to those local governments. They have played such a critical role in our response,” the governor said, noting the money will be disbursed based on a population formula and qualifying expenses.

During an update Wednesday afternoon, Lexington City Council members were particularly interested in potential federal funding from the first CARES Act funding that will help cities and counties offset some of the costs they have incurred since March.

“We need to be extremely proactive because hundreds of other cities and counties will be right there,” Mayor Linda Gorton said.

“This is important to our budget planning, seeing if it is some kind of revenue stream as we go forward.”

These funds will be administered by the Department for Local Government (DLG) and can be used for reimbursements of expenses necessary to comply with public health guidelines and protect Kentuckians.

To apply, eligible local governments with COVID-19-related expenses from March 1, 2020, to Dec. 30, 2020, must complete an application with expense documentation, which will be available on DLGs website Thursday at 8 a.m. (EDT).

The funding will be allocated to city and county governments based on approximate population size as recorded in the most recent census data.

Local governments have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and are a lifeline in our local communities, said Gov. Beshear. During this fight, they have sacrificed so much to protect others by supplying PPE, enforcing guidelines, keeping the public informed and looking out for our most vulnerable. This funding will help them better protect all Kentuckians.

DLG Commissioner Dennis Keene noted city and county governments have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our local governments are on the front lines of this pandemic, sacrificing to keep Kentuckians safe. This funding is critical in the continued fight against COVID-19, said Commissioner Keene.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has outlined specific guidelines and examples of eligible reimbursements for funding through CARES, which was enacted by the U.S. Congress to stimulate the economy and provide financial relief for those addressing the public health emergency.

Guidelines include that expenses:

1. Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID19;

2. Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020; and

3. Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on Dec. 30, 2020.

For a detailed list of eligible expenses and guidelines, visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website. For application information or assistance, visit DLG’s website tomorrow at 8 a.m. (EDT).