By Attorneys Maria Brownell and Kristin Cooper
On August 4, 2020, Governor Kim Reynolds announced the availability of $125 million in federal CARES Act funding for the purpose of reimbursing Iowa's city and county governments' COVID 19 response expenses. Governor Reynolds has allocated $60 million to reimburse city governments, $40 million to reimburse county governments, and $25 million to reimburse local cost-share requirements associated with FEMA Public Assistance funding.
Covered expenses may include personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizing products, testing equipment, public health and public safety payroll costs related to the public health emergency, technology and equipment necessary to maintain services and meetings while social distancing, among others. Local governments may claim up to 25% of payroll costs for public health employees and 25% of payroll costs for public safety employees as payments for services substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Payroll expenditures incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020, which were approved and budgeted by March 27, 2020, are presumed to be qualifying payments eligible for reimbursement. Communities that have made payments pursuant to contracts for public safety services may be eligible to apply for reimbursement.
Prior to requesting these state reimbursement funds, local governments must first submit eligible expenses to FEMA for reimbursement through the Public Assistance program. Local cost-share expenses required by FEMA and other claims can then be submitted to the Iowa COVID-19 Local Government Relief Fund for reimbursement.
In advance of submitting a claim, local governments must also pass a local resolution stating their claims' adherence to all applicable state and federal guidance and a recognition of liability for repayment of distributed funds due to misrepresentation. The Iowa League of Cities has drafted a form resolution in conjunction with the Governor's office. As of the date of this alert, the League's form resolution was under review by the Governor's staff. The most current version of the League's draft resolution can be found here. Specific questions regarding the resolution seeking reimbursement should be directed to legal counsel.
The first deadline for submitting claims for expenses incurred from March through July 2020 is September 15, 2020. Local governments are encouraged to approve the necessary authorizing resolution and apply through the State's web-based portal for reimbursement early.
Additional information on expense eligibility and fund requirements is available here and here.
Please note this is only a summary of the Iowa COVID-19 Local Government Relief Fund program. Details on the program are still emerging.
If you have any questions about reimbursement claims for COVID-19 related expenses, feel free to contact one of the members of Ahlers & Cooney's Public Finance Group. We will continue to monitor and review the most recent information on the relief fund.
Special thanks to Summer Associate Logan Brundage for his work in the preparation of this Client Alert.