Pierce County Council votes to allocate $158 million in CARES Act funding
The Pierce County Council voted today on Emergency Resolution R2020-35 and Emergency Ordinance 2020-60 setting funding priorities for strategic recovery with the allocation of nearly $158 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support the region as it recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council directed funding to the following priorities:
- Public Health Emergency Response - $67 Million
- Economic Stabilization and Recovery Programs - $30 Million
- Community Response and Resilience - $23 Million
- Essential Government Services - $15 Million
- Contingency Reserve - $23 Million
The funding priorities carefully acknowledge the health care needed to address the recovery from this pandemic, while addressing the challenges County residents and businesses are facing during this time. “We know that time is of the essence in standing up our greater community and getting Pierce County back open,” said Council Chair Doug Richardson. “As a body, the Council has opted to move swiftly with broad direction and provide for flexibility as circumstances change.” Prior to the CARES Act, the Council had previously funded food banks and small businesses loans.
Richardson noted that timeliness and flexibility are two of seven funding principles adopted by the Council in their deliberation. The other principles are maintaining accountability and outreach, demonstrating financial stewardship, using leverage (with existing, trusted organizations) for maximum effectiveness, employing a Countywide approach, using an equity and vulnerability lens when awarding funds, and ensuring compliance.
The key funding priorities for the Coronavirus Relief Fund approved by the Council were based on initial recommendations developed by the Recovery Steering Committee co-chaired by Chair Richardson and County Executive Bruce Dammeier.
The Public Health Emergency Response category is the largest and includes funds for diagnostic and serological testing, countywide virus surveillance, contact tracing, and housing for isolation and quarantine. This category also funds proactive testing and disease prevention, access to and training on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), local healthcare system capacity, data collection analysis and reporting, and public education programs.
The second largest amount is directed to Economic Stabilization and Recovery. Programs in this category include projects to preserve and support jobs, support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses, workforce training, broadband and wi-fi services, and efforts to buy goods and services from local suppliers.
The funds in the Community Response and Resilience category will be focused on the food, shelter, behavioral health, family services and transportation needs of the community. This category also includes targeted amounts for domestic and family violence survivors, as well as veterans.
The Essential Government Services section supports the COVID-19 response effort of Pierce County government for the courts, and other core services impacted by the pandemic. There are also funds in this category to support the operations of other governments in the region.
Lastly, the Council approved a $23 Million contingency reserve fund for those needs that emerge over the weeks ahead.
The CARES Act funds must be fully spent by December 30, 2020 or will be forfeited back to the federal government.
The legislation mandates that 60% of the funds may be spent, now, with a review by the Council in 60 days. In addition, Executive Bruce Dammeier will provide weekly updates on expenditures and project milestones to the Council.
Libby Catalinich, Director, Office of Communications