How local cities plan to use federal COVID-19 funds

Posted at 2:53 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 18:58:29-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The Commonwealth of Virginia is in the process of distributing $644.6 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to local governments in its second and final round of allocations.

Over the past few weeks, many local city councils started the process of receiving their portion of the money.

On Tuesday night, Newport News became the latest city to officially accept an additional $15,636,690 from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

"The federal government requires just 15% of CARES Act money go to localities, but we are giving them almost half of Virginia's entire allocation and that is a big deal," he said.

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s apportionment of these funds is $3.1 billion.

The amount given to each locality is based on population, and the CARES funds must only be used for coronavirus-related expenses.

Examples of the coronavirus-related expenses include:

  • Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, human services and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to COVID-19
  • Grants and other aid provided to stabilize local businesses experiencing disruption
  • Acquisition of personal protective equipment and other sanitization and disinfectant product purchases
  • Technology and equipment costs incurred to expand utilization of telework
  • Costs related to higher frequency or more specialized cleaning and disinfection of City facilities
  • Facility and workspace modification (e.g., to allow appropriate social distancing)

"This money will help [cities] do the things we all want to see, from rent assistance and eviction protection to food security to PPE and tools to help educate our children," Northam said.

Suffolk, which is receiving $8,036,068 based on a population of 92,108, plans to put the money towards a small business assistance program, utility (sewer and water) assistance program, technology upgrades to allow for remote working, continued cleaning and disinfecting buildings, COVID-related salary expenses, and PPE and other supplies.

These details were discussed during a city council work session on August 5. Going forward, they said they will continue to monitor the rate of infection and identify, and if necessary adjust, where the biggest needs are.

Specific details are still to come on exactly how the money will be divided among the categories.

On Wednesday afternoon, in a City Council Work Session, leaders in Hampton provided a breakdown of how the CARES Funds are used in both rounds of funding:

Budget CategoryAmount
COVID Saleries & Leave$5,575,724
Hazard Pay$2,650,000
Business Support$1,250,000
Online Transaction Efforts$500,000
Individual & Community Assistance (Housing/Daycare)$2,500,000
Supplies & Equipment$4,827,495
Partner Distributions$300,000

City councils in Virginia Beach and Norfolk must approve to allocate the funds before releasing the plan.

In Virginia Beach, there was a resolution on the August 4, 2020 City Council meeting agenda to execute the certificate, which begins the process to receive funds. That meeting was canceled because of the hurricane, so the item will roll over to either the 18th or 25th.

Norfolk City Council is on recess, but will discuss the allocation once they return.

Because the funds must be expended by December 30, localities are advised not to create services with expenses beyond that period. Any expenses beyond December 30, 2020, must be paid entirely by the locality from local funds.

The City of Cheapeake said they are working to provide News 3 with details on their plan.

News 3 has yet to hear back from the City of Portsmouth.