Dahms applauds Walz’ release of COVID CARES Act funds

BROWN COUNTY — Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, and other government leaders praised Gov. Tim Walz’ Thursday announcement that he would distribute $841 million in federal coronavirus (CARES Act) funding to local governments.

The distribution is according to the approved compromise legislation the Senate and House agreed to in the special session, according to a news release.

The compromise agreement distributed local government funding fairly to Minnesota counties, cities and towns based on their 2018 population, the release read.

“We worked together to come to a compromise in the legislature, and it’s good to see the governor following the lead of Senate Republicans and the legislature to fully distribute these funds,” said Dahms, Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee.

“These are dollars our local communities need to address the growing financial burden from the costs of fighting COVID, along with lost revenue due to COVID. I’m very happy the funds are finally going to be fairly distributed to where they are needed,” Dahms said.

Sleepy Eye City Manager Bob Elston praised Sleepy Eye Economic Development Director Kurk Kramer and the Sleepy Eye EDA for acting quickly to put checks in the hands of businesses early in the pandemic.

“I think it’s a good deal. I’m pleased. It was awesome that Kurk Kramer and our EDA acted quickly, giving $2,500 grants to a couple dozen entities in the first week,” Elston said.

City of Sleepy Eye COVID expenses included purchasing park signs and sanitizer and a long list of other things, Elston said.

“We certainly have (COVID) expenses. We haven’t added them all up,” he added.

Springfield City Manager and EDA Director Joe Stremcha said the most recent amount he’s seen is $154,523 for the City of Springfield, according to an email from District 16B Rep. Paul Torkelson of Hanska.

Eligible expenditures permitted with CARES Act funds include COVID-19 related expenses of public hospitals, clinics and similar facilities, testing including serological testing, emergency medical transportation, establishing and operating public telemedicine capabilities for COVID-19 related treatment, disinfection of public areas and other facilities, acquiring and distributing medical and protective supplies for medical personnel, police officers, social workers, child protection services, child welfare officers, direct service providers for older adults and the disabled, and other health or safety workers.

Other permitted expenditures include costs for quarantining, food delivery, distance learning facilitation, small business grants for business interruption caused by closures and unemployment insurance costs, if not reimbursed by the federal government.

Brown County Administrator Sam Hansen provided more detail on the CARES Act funding including an agreement outlined in Senate File 47 that reads about 55% ($467 million) of the funding will go to counties and 45% ($374 million) to cities and townships with more than 200 people.

Cities and towns under 200 population may apply to a county for reimbursement after showing sufficient information to demonstrate COVID-related costs.

Hansen said he would learn more about the funding at a Friday conference call.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.


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