Cities plan how to spend CARES pass-through funds

Adams County getting $89 million in federal COVID-19 relief money

Scott Taylor
staylor@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/4/20

Adams County will get $89 million in federal CARES act money, sharing roughly $40 million with local governments. Assistant County Manager Jim Siedlecki confirmed that the commissioners were …

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Cities plan how to spend CARES pass-through funds

Adams County getting $89 million in federal COVID-19 relief money

Posted

Adams County will get $89 million in federal CARES act money, sharing roughly $40 million with local governments.

Assistant County Manager Jim Siedlecki confirmed that the commissioners were reviewing Intergovernmental Agreement with the county’s cities and town. County Commissioners discussed the matter in a closed-door executive session April 28 and were scheduled to approve the agreement this week — possibly during their regular Tuesday public hearing May 5.

But City Councilors in Northglenn and Thornton were making plans for the money, with an eye for creating programs to help residents and local businesses. Both councils discussed their plans for creating programs to help residents and small businesses.

In an April 30 press release, county officials said that the specific allocation details will be released this week but would be similar to how other county revenue is distributed to cities and towns.

“Cities and counties are truly on the front line of dealing with this pandemic and this funding will help Adams County and our municipal partners rise to the occasion to meet the needs of their communities as we all work together to defeat the virus and maintain services critical to our residents,” Commission Chair Emma Pinter said in the statement.

Commissioners were scheduled to finalize how much CARES funding each municipality would get and vote on a resolution at the May 5 public hearing.

“As we do on so many issues, we worked directly with our partners in the municipalities to finalize the approach we will present to the board,” County Manager Raymond Gonzales said in the release. “We believe allocating these funds using an equitable formula reflects the spirit and intent of the federal legislation.”

Municipal uses

The federal government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security act on March 27 to help state, county and local governments recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It set aside $150 billion for the states based on population, with Colorado receiving $2.23 billion. A portion is meant to be used for its own programs and the rest to be distributed among county and municipal governments.

Adams County’s share of that is $89,247, 396.

According to federal guidelines, the states, counties and municipal governments must use the money by Dec. 30 and only in certain ways. It can’t be used to recover lost revenues — such as declining sales taxes or fees — but can be used to pay for medical needs, public health, public safety and compliance with public health measures.

Northglenn City Manager Heather Geyer told City Councilors April 27 that she is expecting Northglenn will receive about $3 million from Adams County’s CARES act shares. She said she plans to present the county’s agreement to councilors at their May 11 meeting.

“We can’t backfill budgets with these dollars, but we can use the funding for expenses related to food delivery to residents, and there are other things,” Geyer said. “I really expect our next discussion to be more of a brainstorming session and creative think about the gaps and needs we are seeing that we have not addressed — or not addressed to the level that council wants us to.”

Northglenn is setting at least $850,000 of that CARES money aside to boost the ELEVATE grant program, designed to help Northglenn small businesses. That grant will be available to Northglenn storefront businesses that have been doing business for six months or longer with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. The grants can be used to pay about half of two months of rent of mortgage between March 17 through June 30, 2020 and can’t exceed $6,000.

Not pulled from a hat

Thornton Assistant City Manager Robb Kolstad told Thornton’s City Councilors April 28 that he expects Thornton to receive an estimated $11 million.

Thornton Councilors discussed using the money to boost community programs, aid local businesses and pay off some of the cities own costs —like hazard pay for police and fire fighters, purchasing medical and PPE equipment staff, testing employees and modifying city property to make them safer.

“We do have an increase in COVID-19 related costs that will not be eligible for reimbursment in other ways as well as changes to our business practices now and into the future — including things we cannot even think of yet that will be necessary to continue operation,” Kolstad said. “Those are just some of the city items that came up.”

The Thornton Emergency Business Grant program could see an increase in funding for the city’s CARES share, and local small business loans programs and marketing could benefit as well.

The money would also be used to boost rent and utility assistance for residents, support local food banks and to create a COVID-19 specific homelessness initiative.

The city is looking at setting aside $1 million for community programs, $2 million for business programs and $500,000 for city costs, Kolstad told councilors.

“These numbers were not pulled out of a hat, but they definitely are not scientific,” Kolstad said. “We’ve looked at needs and really tried to ballpark what we would need intitially. And if you add them up, you’ll see that they are less than what we are anticipating and that’s because we think it’s wise to hold a portion of these funds in reserve. We think we’re going to be working through this for months, so it would be wide to evaluate community needs to evolve.”

Two counties

Westminster’s Chief Financial Officer Larry Dorr said Westminster is expecting to receive an estimated $9 million in federal CARES money —$3.5 million from Jefferson County and $5.5 million from Adams County.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Dorr said city staff will review the agreements from the counties when they are finished and refer them to the City Council for approval.

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