City Seeks Up to $72,000 in State Grant Funds Under COVID-19 Relief Program

August 29, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is eligible to apply for up to $72,000 in grant funding under a coronavirus relief effort called the Tennessee Local Government Reimbursement Program.

Last month Governor Bill Lee and the state’s bipartisan Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced that an additional $115 million in coronavirus relief funds would be made available to local governments to offset costs incurred from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program comes in addition to the $210 million in grants for county and municipal governments approved by the General Assembly in the state’s 2021 budget. The City of Smithville’s portion from that grant is $135,000 and specific projects have already been identified and budgeted for this year.

During Thursday night’s special city council meeting, Mayor Josh Miller said the city could apply for this latest grant program and the money be used for things that meet the grant eligibility requirements. The city would have get pre-approval for the expenditures and then spend the money and be reimbursed.

For example, Mayor Miller said the city might be able to purchase vehicles to keep coworkers such as water and sewer employees from having to travel to job sites together in the same vehicle to reduce the threat of catching and spreading the coronavirus.

“This pandemic has required a high level of coordination and support across all levels of government to ensure local needs are met and the health and wellbeing of Tennesseans are protected,” Governor Lee said. “The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group has provided another round of funding as we work to reduce any financial barriers in COVID-19 response.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented our local governments with unique challenges specific to the needs of their people. Giving local governments control over how to spend these dollars maximizes efficiency and ensures this money is deployed in the most effective way possible,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said. “As we adjust to the new normal of living and working with COVID-19, it is important that local governments have the resources they need to attack the virus and address the issues it creates.”

Expenses paid for by the reimbursement program should fall within one of the following categories:
•Medical Expenses
•Public Health Expenses
•Payroll Expenses Related to COVID-19
•Public Health Compliance Expenses
•Other Reasonably Necessary Expenses Incurred in Response to the COVID-19 public
Health emergency.

The funding will be allocated from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to eligible local governments on a per capita basis.

“Directing additional funds to local governments will ensure they can continue to effectively meet the needs of their residents,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “COVID-19 related decisions and expenses whether in health care, education, or in other areas will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

Funds from the CRF may not be used to replace lost government revenue. Funds also may not be used for expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal programs.