CARES Act Funding Distribution Undergoing County Study

UNITED WAY SUPPORT: To address the needs of nonprofit agencies, the county has reached out to the United Way to get its support and counsel to assess where the greatest needs countywide exist and which agencies are best prepared to address these needs.

On March 27, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act. The CARES Act appropriated funds to all cities and counties in the United States based on population. All cities and counties with a population of more than 500,000 received funding. In Oklahoma, that meant that direct funding would only be received by Oklahoma City and Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. Tulsa County’s appropriation amounted to $113,667,000 and it was received on April 23. The funds can only be used to reimburse entities for increased expenses that are directly related to the COVID 19 public health emergency and incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.
According to the guidance provided by the Department of Treasury, the county can use these funds to: (1) cover the county’s cost related to COVID 19; (2) assist cities in Tulsa County recover their out-of-pocket costs; (3) support community non-profit agencies which are responding to COVID 19, and (4) support small businesses which have seen operational interruptions as a result of COVID 19.
Once it was determined that Tulsa County would be receiving these funds directly, we began to put into place a process to address each of the four areas. For internal county departments, the process for making an application to receive funding has been posted on the county’s intranet, which includes a project application, resource materials which provide recommendations on actions to take to address COVID 19 in public buildings, and a FAQ link covering general information about the CARES Act.
Simultaneously the board of county commissioners appointed a review committee of county officials to accept applications, review the request to make sure it is in compliance with the federal requirements and to make funding recommendations to the board for final approval.
The county has a lot of divisions and elected officials that have direct contact with the public. Some of the largest are the Election Board, the Sheriff, Court Clerk, County Clerk, Treasurer, and Assessor Offices. There is also the jail, the courts, parks, Expo Square, Social Services, and the building operations which is responsible for the courthouse. Each of these has presented proposals on how they would improve the safety and security of the public’s health when they have to come to the County offices to conduct their business.
For all of the cities in Oklahoma that didn’t receive direct funding, which is EVERY city except Oklahoma City, the CARES Act anticipated they would be funded by receiving a portion of the state’s allocation of $1.3 billion. As of this writing, the governor’s office is developing a process for cities to apply for both reimbursements as well as the cost of future projects. It is expected the governor’s office will be ready to accept the applications from the cities soon after this article is published. In the interim, before the state is ready to provide some funding, each of the cities in Tulsa County has been contacted to see if they have some more immediate needs that we can address through the funds received by the county.
To address the needs of the nonprofit agencies, the county has reached out to the United Way to get its support and counsel to assess where the greatest needs countywide are and which agencies are best prepared to address these needs. United Way will assist the county with the screening and eligibility criteria before a funding request is presented to the review committee.
There are many small businesses in Tulsa County with fewer than 100 employees, which did not receive federal aid directly to address the impact upon their business. The county has reached out to the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) to see if we can partner with them to assist the county with a needs assessment, eligibility criteria, etc. to identify those small businesses with the greatest need. Once the applications are reviewed and recommended for funding, they will be presented to the review committee and then the board of county commissioners for final approval.
This has certainly been a stressful time for all Tulsa County citizens. The county’s objective in distribution of these CARES funds, in each of the four areas discussed above, is to identify the most critical unmet needs and to assist by funding those areas in a responsible and timely manner.