The CARES Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 27. In addition to direct payments to Americans and payroll protection programs for businesses, the CARES Act established a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, issued to state, local, and Tribal governments navigating the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Governments with a population over 500,000 received payment directly from the U.S. Treasury. Funding for small populations passed through the state, although all had the same three requirements.
The CARES Act required the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that were necessary expenditures to mitigate the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19. The Department of the Treasury broadly defined “necessary” as an expenditure that was “reasonably necessary for its intended use in the reasonable judgment of the government officials responsible for spending fund payments.”
Allowable expenses included only those that were not accounted for in the agencies’ most recent budget as of March 27, and were incurred during the period that began on March 1 and ended on Dec. 30.
Colusa County was allocated $2.2 million in CARES Act funding, of which nearly $800,000 was given as grants to help small businesses impacted by coronavirus. According to the California Budget and Policy Center, businesses hardest hit by closures and lockdowns were entertainment (theaters, bowling alley), full service restaurants, bars, personal care (hair salons, barbers, massage therapy), child care services, and retail (excluding grocery and pharmacy).
Colusa County also spent nearly $210,000 on food and nutrition programs for homebound seniors over the age of 60. The County spent $144,000 on administrative expenses; $386,000 on payroll for public health and safety employees; $40,000 on previously budgeted personnel services that were diverted to other uses; $173,000 to improve telework capabilities for public employees to work remotely; $54,619 on personal protective equipment; $49,000 on nursing home assistance; $49,000 on medical expenses; and $37,000 on public health assistance.
Williams received $67,000 from the CARES Act, which they spent entirely on technology.
Williams spent $39,517 with Golden Rule signs for two electronic monument signs, on the west and east sides of town, to help communicate emergency information and help facilitate distance learning. They also spent $27,736 with Westel Communications to upgrade computer and phone systems to improve telework capabilities and enable virtual meetings.
The City of Colusa received $60,000 in CARES Act funding. Colusa spent about $12,000 on non-specified COVID-19 expenses; $15,800 for payroll for finance personnel; $14,900 for payroll for fire department, and $1,300 at Rocco’s Bar & Grill for meals for public safety personnel.
The city also spent about $8,000 on technology for online meetings, including HD video equipment and microphones, and an Apple Ipad Pro, and the remaining $6,000 on COVID-19 mitigation, including personal protective equipment and sanitizer.
All agencies were required to submit full documentation on their expenditures to the state, officials said. ♣