With the administration preparing to distribute federal dollars from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to municipalities for specific COVID-19 response costs, representatives from the Executive Office for Administration and Finance and the Division of Local Services held a webinar for local officials yesterday to explain the process.

Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan and his team outlined how the funds, appropriated through the federal CARES Act will get to municipalities quickly, both for cash flow purposes and to help address any fiscal 2020 deficits related to COVID-19 expenditures.

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) authorized $150 billion through the Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and local governments, including $2.7 billion for Massachusetts. Aside from large local government units (Boston and Plymouth County), funds have been sent first to the state, with the expectation that the state will use funds for its own expenses and those of municipalities.

Under federal law, eligible uses must meet three conditions:
1. They must be “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to … COVID-19.”
2. The expenditures must not have been budgeted as of March 27, when the CARES Act was enacted.
3. The expenditures must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020.

These federal funds may not be used to substitute for lost revenue.

Beginning today, municipalities, through their chief executive officer, will be able to complete a web-based application form. The application and complete CARES Act information can be found on the DLS website.

In addition to Heffernan, the presenters of the hour-long webinar were Administration and Finance Undersecretary Catharine Hornby; Heath Fahle, special director for federal funds at A&F; and Sean Cronin, senior deputy commissioner at the Division of Local Services.

The webinar was arranged by the MMA.

Written by