Disaster Relief Funding Webinar Q&A Elaboration!

by Aaron Thompson, on May 5, 2020 at 9:57 AM

Last week, the Localgov team enjoyed hosting a webinar for local governments from across the nation as we shared information about resources available in response to COVID-19. Entities from 48 states were registered and over 360 people attended! 

We thank all who joined us. We had a number of questions that we were unable to answer due to time restrictions. Below, we will go into a bit more detail about some of the common questions that we received.

An important disclaimer, the following information references $1.3 trillion plus in federal spending. Communities will receive these funds (based upon a number of factors) in a variety of ways from receiving automatically from a federal agency, to applying to a state agency, or a combination of the two. For your community, visit the referenced links to learn how your community can consider these funds.

As a reminder, four areas of federal government support (and relevant acronyms) were discussed. 

Initial Federal Action
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Learn More Here)
  • Municipal Liquidity Fund: Short term lending options to State and Local Governments (Learn More Here) - $500 billion
CARES Act Boosted Federal Programs (Learn More Here)

How do we access these funds in our state?
For the Coronavirus Relief Fund, local governments with a population of over 500,000 will receive these funds directly from the federal government. For smaller communities, funds will be distributed to the state government who will then make determinations for how local governments will be supported. Stay in touch with relevant state agencies (Governor’s Office, Local Government Agency, Emergency Management) as additional information will most likely begin to be released over the coming weeks. As we mentioned on the webinar, Washington has announced a minimum of $250,000 to every county and $25,000 to every city with additional details to be announced. Missouri and Montana have setup task forces to determine how funds should be spent. With 50 states, we will most likely see 50 different versions of how states determine to spend their funds based upon what they see as the best need for their people. 

For CARES Act Boosted Federal Programs such as CDBG, ESG, EDA, or JAG, your local government will seek these funds through their normal outlets. For larger communities, these funds are directly received by the federal government. For smaller communities, you will see these funds through your state government as a pass through. (Learn More Here)

Do these funds support revenue loss?
To put it simply, no. All funds that have been appropriated are solely for responding to the virus and costs associated. That being said, a number of programs are available and your local government has most likely been solely focused on the virus. Explore all options mentioned above that could assist with your costs (that wouldn’t take from your general fund).

Can these funds support small businesses in our community?
Assuming it is allowed by your state, the US Department of Treasury indicates that CRF eligible spending options include “expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures” and/or “expenditures related to a State, territorial, local, or Tribal government payroll support program.”

Do these funds support construction costs?
In regard to the CRF, the only construction costs specifically mentioned that are allowed are those related to health facilities such as testing centers. For your specific circumstances, talk directly with your state agency distributing these funds for further information.

Do any of these funds allow us to hire employees or support salaries related to the COVID-19 Response?
For law enforcement positions, the JAG Program allows the hiring of officers and overtime costs. (Learn More Here)

For the CRF, the US Department of Treasury says that “Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID19 public health emergency.” As a word of caution, Treasury also says that ineligible expenditures include “payroll or benefits expenses for employees whose work duties are not substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” Be sure to check with your state’s specific rules once available for any specific questions you might have.

Do these funds assist with paying for employees being off work related to COVID-19?
According to the US Department of Treasury, an eligible expense for the CRF includes “expenses of providing paid sick and paid family and medical leave to public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.” That being said, check with your state’s specific rules on the CRF Program once available.

Can local municipalities be reimbursed for services like yours, intended to help identify reimbursable funds?
Yes, the grants management services will be reimbursed by FEMA for work that is done for the government agency’s eligibility determination and processing the grants. The grants management reimbursement is given to government agencies, as part of the FEMA reimbursement of expenses incurred for response to the disaster.

Is the FEMA Public Assistance minimum $3,300.00?
Yes the FEMA Public Assistance minimum for eligible reimbursement is $3,300.00. This is a cumulative amount for all FEMA eligible reimbursements due the government agency in response to a disaster.

How Localgov Can Help

For communities that don't have the fast-acting resources or systems in place to successfully receive disaster grant funds, we have expert consultants that will manage your entire grant process:

  • Ensure your application is submitted before the disaster relief appropriations run out.
  • Track policy changes in real-time that impact your community.
  • Expert local government grant writers that submit activities to be paid for through disaster relief funding on your behalf.
  • Discover, identify, and verify every expense and capitalize on every potential reimbursement.
  • Provide Staff Augmentation which reduces the workload of affected areas—we do all the work on the behalf of your staff.
  • This service is reimbursable up to 75%.

Schedule a 15-minute personal assessment of your disaster grant funds potential: Claim your free consultation!

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Topics:local governmentcovid-19cares actfederal governmentdisaster relief funds