At the Monday, August 3rd City Council meeting, the Council received a presentation from Finance Department staff on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds.
Seeking Council authorization to accept and appropriate the dollars, City staff explained that when the CARES Act was signed into law in March of this year, it included $500 million for the state of California.
“Cities with populations greater than 300,000 received money directly from the Federal government, splitting $225 million dollars. The remaining leaving $275 million dollars is being splt between cities that fall under that population threshold, Visalia being one of them,” explained Jana Ferguson, City of Visalia Financial Analyst.
Visalia was notified of their allotment at the end of June, and City staff have been working with the City Manager to establish a list of needs. In total, the City is set to receive $1,711,918.00.
“Funds will be distributed in 1/6 allocations, making each payment $285,320,” shared Ferguson. “To receive these dollars, the City must adhere to The City is must adhere to all State Executive Orders, California Department of Public Health orders, directives, and guidance.”
The City’s expenses must occur between March 1st and December 30, 2020 and must be necessary expenditures that relate directly to mitigating and responding to COVID-19.
“All funds must be spent by December 30th or returned to the State of California,” stated Renee Nagel, City of Visalia Finance Director. “This is a short timeline to complete the process and expend the funds, so City staff have worked collaboratively to establish a viable plan to make effective use of the funds in the short timeframe required.”
In order to meet the spending deadline, staff recommended to the City Council that they authorize the use of CARE funds to reimburse costs already incurred due to COVID-19, which range from public safety payrole to updated technologies to aid in social distancing.
Additional expenditures include providing additional Personal Protective Equipment to City staff, costs associated with job training to retain employees that have been displaced by department closures and equipment that will help minimize COVID-19 exposure amongst staff and citizens, such as automated/mechanical chest compression CPR devices for Fire Department apparatus.
With a 5-0 vote the City Council voted to authorize staff to accept and appropriate the CARES Coronavirus Relief Funds and to approve expenditures until funds are fully exhausted.
Monday’s decision comes on the heels of Council’s previous decision at the July 29th Council meeting to award $425,551 in CARES Act funding to the Central California Food Bank (CCFB). CCFB will use the funding for food relief, to help local food pantries meet the increased demand for food distributions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.