Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Wants Its CARES Money Back

$103 million allocated for Milwaukee County ended up with the state. County officials demand the money.

By - May 23rd, 2020 01:15 pm
David Crowley and Marcelia Nicholson.

David Crowley and Marcelia Nicholson.

Milwaukee County is starting to apply pressure to the state, asking for CARES Act funds that were originally intended to go to Milwaukee County, but because of rulemaking at the federal level, ended up in state coffers.

In a joint statement, County Executive David Crowley and County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson called on the state to transfer $103 million back to county.

Under the CARES Act, Milwaukee County was allocated $165 million for costs that are “substantially dedicated” to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. But changes in rulemaking as to how allocations were calculated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury left the county with only $62 million, according to Joe Lamers, director of the county’s Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget. The remaining $103 million was added to the state’s $2 billion allocation.

Right now the county is incurring a number of costs related to the pandemic. These costs are being directly applied to department budgets, eating away at revenue set aside for the normal operations of Milwaukee County. Early projections show the cost of COVID-19 to the county could be as high as $450 million.

The county needs this $103 million, Crowley said during a media briefing this week, to “continue to provide those critical services that Milwaukee County provides during this pandemic.” If the county doesn’t receive it, “We’re gonna have to make some tough decisions,” he added.

Since the start of the pandemic, the county has incurred about $40 million in direct costs as a result. Recently, the administration went before the county board asking for recognition on the county’s books of $20 million in CARES Act funding that can be applied to direct costs the county has already incurred or will in the near future.

These costs are largely arising from the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hazard pay, cleaning and disinfecting, reconfiguring county operations and re-opening of county operations that were shut down at the start of the pandemic. Lamers said recent estimates indicate the county could spend anywhere between $15 and $20 million on PPE alone in 2020.

“We don’t even know if the $62 million will be enough to cover those direct related costs,” Lamers recently told the county board.

That’s why, Crowley said, “we’re gonna continue to lean on the governor and our federal congressional members to bring as many resources back, so we can continue to provide those services.”

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Categories: Health, MKE County, Politics

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