Jefferson County, cities receive million in CARES Act funding

Governments look to cover costs stemming from pandemic, support businesses and nonprofits

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/13/20

On April 30, Jefferson County has granted $101.7 million in relief funds to cover expenses related to COVID-19 and its recovery. The funds were made available to cities and states through the …

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Jefferson County, cities receive million in CARES Act funding

Governments look to cover costs stemming from pandemic, support businesses and nonprofits

Posted

On April 30, Jefferson County has granted $101.7 million in relief funds to cover expenses related to COVID-19 and its recovery.

The funds were made available to cities and states through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which has made more than $2.2 trillion in federal funding available to state and local governments, small businesses and hospitals in addition to providing stimulus payments and unemployment benefits to individuals.

The act sets aside $150 billion for state and local governments with states receiving shares of funds proportional to their population.

Colorado’s share of that allocation was $2,223,011,164, or roughly $387 per person according to 2019 census estimates. Counties with a population of at least 500,000 were then able to claim 45% of the money allocated for their share of the population with the state retaining the other 55% (the state also retains 100% of the revenue allocated to residents of counties of less than $500,000 in population).

On May 4, the Jefferson County Commissioners decided that cities would receive 45% of their per-person share of the county total while the county would retain the other 55% (and 100% for residents of unincorporated areas). The cities’ 45% share totals $29.8 million.

Jefferson County Manager Don Davis said a portion of the county share of its allotment will be used to cover unbudgeted county expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19. He is currently in the process of seeking input from county departments about the amount of expenses they incurred that will need to be reimbursed.

Money to help businesses and nonprofits

Such expenses include the costs of operations like reopening the seventh floor of the jail, which the Sheriff’s Office did to isolate patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Davis said Jefferson County Public Health has also faced many expenses related to the crisis. Davis said the money the county has received to be able to cover all of the expenses the county has received to date, but said he could not say whether it would be enough to cover all of the expenses the county will ultimately incur.

However, Davis said he also expects the county share of the funds to also be used to provide assistance to county businesses affected by COVID-19 as well as assistance to charities as well as assistance to nonprofits that are providing aid to citizens affected by the crisis.

Davis said he expects the county’s cities to use their share of the money for similar purposes.

“Of course, they’ll need some of that money to cover their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), law enforcement and first responder-type expenses, and things like modifications they might need to do to their own facilities,” Davis said. “But there should be money that’s left over for them to support operations within their city limits, things that have been occurring, whether it’s with a nonprofit, or small businesses or whatever.”

In Arvada, Ben Irwin, the chief communications manager for the city, said the city is still in the process of determining what its share of the funds will be spent on. However, he said the city has identified three areas of focus for the dollars that correspond to the suggested uses for the money identified by Davis. Those areas of focus are supporting the business community based on feedback provided by the Arvada Resiliency Task Force that was formed to support businesses during the crisis, supporting nonprofit efforts and covering county expenses, which Irwin said have totaled $3,545,205, including loans.

“I think it will likely be a balance across those focus areas based on input from the city team,” Irwin said of the decision of how the money could be spent.

Golden City Manager Jason Slowinski said some of that city’s major expenses have included purchasing additional PPE for first responders and the cost of communication efforts related to the public health orders and added public safety costs.

Slowinski said that while the funds will cover the direct costs the city has incurred from COVID-19, he said he would like to see the federal government go a step further and provide cities with funding to make up for money they are losing as a result of COVID-19 and the accompanying reduction in sales tax revenue as people spend less.

“These CARES Act dollars cannot be used for that purpose,” Slowinski said. “So what we encourage our delegations to do is as they debate additional stimulus packages is include additional aid for cities as part of that.”

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