County Wants Its CARES Money Back
$103 million allocated for Milwaukee County ended up with the state. County officials demand the money.
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.
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.
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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