ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas has about $19 million in unallocated CARES Act funding, according to Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) Spokesperson Scott Hardin.
The state was awarded $1.2 billion in federal funds because of the pandemic and the deadline to spend the money is December 30, 2020, unless it’s extended by Congress.
The CARES Act committee discussed one option that may be utilized if an extension is not implemented and that is to place the remaining funds into the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund, according to Hardin.
Hardin said more than $771 million has been distributed and $407 million is earmarked for use.
The deadline for cities and counties to submit an application was 5 p.m, Monday, November 16, to get its portion of the $150 million in funding that was reserved of the $1.2 billion, according to Hardin.
In October, the $150 million was divided evenly with cities and towns getting $75 million and $75 million for counties.
In October, DFA Secretary Larry Walther, the department administering the local relief funds said, “as Arkansas communities and counties approach the end of 2020 and begin planning for 2021, we want to ensure local leaders are aware of the CARES funding available to them.”
Cities, town, and counties may be reimbursed for the following COVID-19-related expenditures:
- Payroll for Public Health and Safety Employees
- Budgeted Personnel and Services Diverted to a Substantially Different Use
- Public Health Expenses
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Improve Telework Capabilities of Public Employees
- Other – not listed above
FUNDS AVAILABLE THROUGH NOV. 18 FOR LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES AND VETERANS’ MENTAL HEALTH
- Demonstrate a mission or vision to advance equity and address needs for high-poverty communities or be a non-profit veteran service organization that serves Arkansas veterans
- Show a history of service to these populations and clear strategies for engagement with members of the community
- Have leadership and staff who are representative of the populations served by the initiatives
- Have been in operation since March 1, 2019
LOW-INCOME COMMUNITY SUPPORT: CARES Act funding for non-profit and community organizations that serve low-income and minority communities may apply for up to $10,000 to serve high-poverty areas in Arkansas.
VETERANS MENTAL HEALTH: More than $3 million was approved for supportive programs and services for veterans and their families that provide mental health services, outreach and education, and crisis intervention for vets having mental health issues during the pandemic.
PRE-APPROVAL & APPROVED FUNDS REQUESTED DURING NOV. 10 STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
(items are listed in order of discussion)
- Department of Veterans Affairs requested an HVAC attachment apparatus that would kill mold and bacteria. the sanitization equipment is $22,000 each and would be installed in Fayetteville and North Little Rock nursing homes. This was placed on the pre-approved list.
- Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) Secretary Solomon Graves requested $2 million for an extension of the “continuity repair payment.” This is for a one-time $500 bonus payments to ADC and ACC staff who have worked at COVID positive facilities. This was approved by State Senator Will Bond (D) and seconded by State Senator Missy Thomas Irvin (R).
- Arkansas Department of Health and UAMS Economic Recovery Task Force was approved an additional $400,000 for a statewide marketing campaign to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The focus is to create a personal message for behavioral change, and people taking personal responsibility to reduce the spread of the virus.
- The Public Broadcast System of Arkansas was approved for $142,733, reimbursement for handling, and assisting, with the special legislative session.
- The Commerce Department, headed by Secretary Mike Preston, was approved for $50 million to cover employers’ anticipated increased rates in 2021. The rates will increase next year based on a significantly larger number of unemployment claims in the second quarter of 2020.
- The agency that provided Zoom licenses to courts across the state asked for $45,666, of $109,000, in reimbursement. This was approved.
- State Senator Gary Stubblefield (R) was put on hold regarding the request of $20 million for senior centers across the state. The committee asked for a breakdown of costs to get the centers reimbursed in connection to COVID-19, no action taken.
- State Senator Bond requested funds for teachers and employees. He disclosed that he has a sister who teaches in Central Arkansas. He requested $1,000 per teacher and $500 for support staff. The committee did not take any formal action on this request.
Items placed on the pre-approved list are items the DFA can approved and pay without any additional approvals, according to Hardin.