(TNS) — Metro Detroit government leaders have started to reveal how they plan to allocate nearly $700 million in federal stimulus money to help deal with the impacts of the coronavirus.
Michigan County executives in Macomb and Oakland counties announced Tuesday they plan to allocate portions of their counties' allotments to local governments and small businesses.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion package, was passed and signed into law March 27. The state of Michigan was allocated $3 billion while four counties and the city of Detroit received their own allocations because they have a population of 500,000 or more.
The breakdowns are: about $117 million for the city of Detroit; $188 million for Wayne County; nearly $220 million for Oakland County; $152 million for Macomb County, and nearly $115 million for Kent County.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said $10 million will be designated for the 27 local communities in the county. For Oakland County, its 60-plus cities, villages and townships will share $30 million, Executive Dave Coulter said.
Both said the money would be grants, not loans. Coulter said he wanted to start providing communities with funds as early as the first half of June, if the county Board of Commissioners provides approval next week.
In Macomb County, officials are planning for small businesses to share $70 million of the funds. Hackel said he's looking at the first part of June for when they can start applying.
In Oakland County, Coulter said $12 million will be designated, at this time, for small businesses as part of a second round of grants from the Small Business Stabilization Fund. Recipients include more than 2,700 small businesses shut out of the first round of funding. Nearly 7,700 small businesses applied for grants, with their need from the virus pandemic at $80 million, Coulter said.
In Wayne County, Assistant Executive Khalil Rahal said in a statement Tuesday the county has been working with elected leaders to identify specific needs and programs that meet the eligibility requirements.
"Clearly, a priority for us is ensuring the Wayne County Public Health Division has the resources and equipment it needs to continue to manage the pandemic. We are also looking at how to restructure delivery of existing county services in light of the new social distancing realities that will remain in effect as emergency orders ease up," he said.
"Finally, we are looking how the county can help small businesses recoup some of the increased costs of restarting operations and taking the added steps necessary to ensure the safety of their employees and Wayne County residents. This process will continue to evolve in the coming weeks as our plans solidify, and as we forecast the near-future and have solid economic projections for the coming months.”
Detroit's Chief Financial Officer Dave Massaron said funds can be used for documented COVID-19-related expenses, and "the better we are able to document those expenses, the more we will be able to conserve our limited city revenues to provide other vital services."
He said the city's plan to balance its revenue shortfall assumes it receives 100% reimbursement for all virus expenses it has incurred through various federal programs.
These include expenses such as: testing centers; contact tracing; personal protective equipment (PPE) for city employees and public distribution, such as masks on buses; additional cleaning and sterilizing of buses and facilities; meals for children, seniors and families; the water restart plan; expanding homeless shelters, allowing for isolation of symptomatic people; additional personnel costs to keep police, fire and medical first responders safe; hazard pay for eligible front-line employees; physical changes to work spaces to make it safe for employees to return to work, and technology to help employees work from home.
"The city is currently working through how best to allocate and document these and future costs to various grant programs through the federal stimulus legislation," he said.
In Macomb County, Hackel broke down how officials are looking to share their funds:
- Recoup and prepare: $24 million
- Public health: $32 million
- Support for local municipalities: $10 million
- Support for vulnerable populations (seniors and schools): $16.5 million
- Support for small businesses: $70 million
For recoup and prepare, funds could help with trading out desktop equipment for laptops because most employees are working remotely; video conferencing enhancements, and physical barriers, floor markings and signage for departments when employees and the public return to in-person business, said Vicki Wolber, deputy executive.
She said public health could include testing, supplies and contracts with labs; PPE for employees or congregate care sites, and expanding morgue capacity. Hackel said having a PPE stockpile for the county and first responders also is a need going forward.
Hackel said everything would be run through the county Board of Commissioners and the county's auditing firm. He said a budget amendment will be sent to the county board Thursday, as well as another extension of the county's state of emergency order.
Coulter said funding for communities in Oakland County will be based on population and need, with a cap. Communities have had expenses for public safety, staff overtime for COVID-19 matters, PPE and safety protocols and equipment to safely reopen, he said.
Southfield Mayor Ken Siver said the City Council in January — two months before the first positive virus cases were announced in Michigan — approved more than $7,000 in additional cleaning supplies, gloves, masks and hand sanitizer not knowing they would "go through all that and more."
He said the city needs more thermometers and PPE and has rewritten its budget, which is to be adopted next month. He said the city is cutting expenses, yet experiencing new ones.
Siver said more than $200,000 was spent for glass partitions for counters with speaker and mic system so staff can hear customers when they come to city hall, hopefully in early June. They're working to retrofit the library and spending extra money on in-depth cleaning. They also changed door handles so they are low-touch or no-touch, he said.
Siver said the city had a "totally unexpected expense": putting up first responders in hotels. He said at one time, the city had 13 firefighters off work. They were either testing positive for the virus and couldn't go home and possibly infect their families or they had someone sick at home.
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