Garfield County in line for more than $5M in CARES Act local government assistance related to coronavirus costs | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield County in line for more than $5M in CARES Act local government assistance related to coronavirus costs

Post Independent Garfield County news graphic

Local governments in Garfield County stand to receive close to $5.2 million in federal assistance to help with costs incurred in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs is preparing to allocate upwards of $275 million statewide to counties and municipalities from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, Garfield County Manager Kevin Batchelder said during the Monday county commissioners meeting.

The funds are part of the federal CARES Act, which was approved by Congress to help with the financial impact of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

County commissioners on Monday gave unanimous approval to a required “collaboration agreement” that’s necessary for the county and its six municipalities to receive disbursements for COVID-eligible expenses.

The deadline for local governments to opt in is July 7, Batchelder said.

The money could go a long way toward covering the many un-budgeted expenses local government has had to absorb. Those can include expenses related to enacting and enforcing public health restrictions, and public education efforts around limiting the spread of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late February and early March.

The first round of funding assistance released by the state was targeted at cities and counties with populations of 500,000 people or more, explained Assistant County Manager Fred Jarman.

The new round of assistance is also distributed on a population basis to other parts of the state. Within Garfield County, each municipality is eligible for their share based on population.

That will be determined on the following breakdown based on 2018 population data from the state demographer’s office:

CARES distributions based on 2018 population estimates

Unincorporated Garfield County (pop. 24,090) — $2.1 million

Glenwood Springs (10,024) — $863,510

Rifle (9,500) — $818,370

Carbondale (6,883) — $592,931

New Castle (5,029) — $433,219

Silt (3,171) — $273,163

Parachute (1,115) — $96,051

Total county (59,812) — $5.2 million

 

Of the total CARES Act funding coming to Colorado, 10% is being held in reserve and another 10% is to be distributed to special districts in the state that may also claim expenses related to COVID-19.

School districts are also in line to receive funding through the Colorado Department of Education. Many, including the Roaring Fork School District, are considering using that money to help buffer the longer-term budgetary impacts that schools are facing due to the broader economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.

County commissioners also included a provision in the agreement for any dollars not claimed by municipalities to go into a countywide pool, rather than going back to the state reserve.

County government alone will likely have expenses well above the $2.075 million designated for the unincorporated parts of the county. Garfield County Public Health alone has tallied about $2.5 million in COVID-related expenses to date, county officials said Monday.

However, some of those and other county departmental expenses are not eligible for the assistance funds, Jarman said.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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