On June 25th, 2020, Governor Walz announced a plan to distribute $853 million in federal funding to Minnesota communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Local governments can use the funding to support services and grants to businesses, hospitals, and individuals impacted by the pandemic. The specific aid amounts for each township, based on 2018 population, can be found here.
In order to receive these funds, towns should visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue special page with more information and instructions of how to apply for the funding here. But to summarize, towns under 5,000 residents will receive $25 per resident, according to data as recent as 2018. Towns with over 200 residents will receive their funds directly from the State and should work to prevent those funds from intermingling with other township fund, examples on how to do so can be found in the CARES Act FAQ section. Towns with under 200 residents still apply for the CARES Act funds, but the county holds the funds and the town must work with the county to be reimbursed for costs covered under the CARES Act.
In general, the CARES Act assistance can only be used to cover expenses that:
- are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
- were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
- were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.
CARES Act FAQ:
There a several frequently asked questions that have arisen, two documents exist to aid towns in addressing these costs:
- This document is created by the United States Treasurer to address some concerns and questions regarding the CARES Act: US Treasury CARES Act FAQ
- This Document is created by the Minnesota Management and Budgeting’s COVID-19 accountability office to address concerns and questions regarding the CARES Act: MMB CARES Act FAQ
- This document will help specifically help townships determine whether expenses qualify for reimbursement: Town Specific CARES Act FAQ
Remember that the town needs a SWIFT ID and DUNS number. If not known by the town can find out the SWIFT ID number by emailing EFT.Helpline@state.mn.us. The town can apply for a DUNS or SAMS number by visiting this page, and more information can be found in the state CRF distribution training slideshow found below. To obtain a DUNS number, follow this link and then register here.
Costs Covered with the CARES Act Funds:
As towns have started to receive CARES Act funds, they have also began spending some of these funds. Below are some examples of costs that towns have covered with the CARES Act, remember that each of these have satisfied all three factors that are required by the CARES Act to spend these funds. A resolution, resolving to spend CARES Act funds can be found here.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees, officers, and town meeting attendees:
- Increased Election costs, such as, increased pay for election judges, PPE, Plexiglas shields, increased number of voting booths, etc:
- American with Disabilities Act compliant handicap accesses for different buildings, or changed access routes to aid in social distancing:
- Automatic amenities to reduce the number of frequently touched objects, these amenities include doors, bathroom sinks, soap dispensers, hand sanitizer dispensers, toilets, etc:
- Audio/Visual displays for meetings to help reduce need to pass paper or materials, or to comply with the Open Meeting Law:
- Increased payroll expenses such as increased janitorial services or costs related to researching how to mitigate the spread and properly conduct the township through COVID-19:
- Broadband infrastructure or hotspots that can be deployed this year, and was not already budgeted for as of March 27th 2020:
- Computers or tablets for remote work and access or meeting participation:
- Telephone or video meeting service costs:
- Donations to food shelves or other social support programs:
- Grant program to local businesses or individuals. Since grants are not commonly given by towns, it is strongly recommended that the town works with their private town attorney in building this system:
- Ventilation systems as strongly recommended by an inspector to comply with DEED guidelines – CAUTION – basic HVAC will not qualify as it does not filter; likely need air exchanger and filter system.
Towns may also transfer excess funds to other local governments, a sample resolution doing so can be found here.
Help America Vote Act CARES Act Grant:
The state has also received funds specifically for elections, which was received by the Secretary of State, two primary qualifications must be met for a State to utilize these funds. First, distributions made to states include a 20% matching requirement by a State receiving the funds, which means that a State, receiving these funds must also spend 20% of the HAVA money used to secure the HAVA Grant. Second, HAVA requires ‘projects’ to exist for at least two years to receive the funds. However, the CARES act requires all money to be used or planned to be used by the end of 2020. To solve this potential contradiction, the extra money from HAVA is only used for the 2020 elections, and the subsequent care of materials, such as ballots.
These funds are to be distributed by the Secretary of State through the counties, so long counties agree to a “fair, equitable, and mutually agreeable” distribution plan with the municipalities within the county. So, if the town would like to learn how to apply these funds to their election, please reach out to the county to get some clarification. More information on the HAVA Cares Act Grant can be found here.
The linked document contains the reporting requirements in order to report these funds on CTAS.
CARES Act Reporting:
Towns over 200 residents that receive CARES Act funds must complete periodic reports (The report form can be found here). Reports have been due 7 business days after the end of the month (e.g., August 11th and September 9th), however, this may be subject to change. If you received distributions prior to the end of August, you must report for August and the months prior, if you received distributions after, there is no need to complete this first report. You may review the instructions and report to the MMB and COVID-19 accountability office here.
August 25 CARES ACT Webinar: For information regarding this form, please watch/listen to the August 25th webinar found here.
ZOOM CARES Act Teleconference Calls:
On July 8th, a Zoom conference call with leaders at the MN Department of Revenue to explain the application process and answer questions.
Listen to the CARES Act Information Zoom Teleconference & Presentation Here:
Click to view PowerPoint used in teleconference: State CRF Distribution Training
On August 4th, a second Zoom conference call with Minnesota Management and Budget experts to discuss the procedures and take questions.
Listen/View the August 4, 2020 CARES Act Information Zoom Teleconference
Click to view PowerPoint used in Aug 4 Zoom teleconference: COVID-19 Funding Reporting Presentation (Aug 4 Call)