By Tia Lynn Ivey
The City of Madison is poised to receive a federal grant in the amount of $66,000 through the CARES Act, which aims to fund local governments to pay for coronavirus-related expenses. These federal funds will be Madison’s slice of the $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed in late March. But city officials aren’t sure they can spend that much.
“This is the first time in history we might have trouble spending money,” said Madison City Manager David Nunn. “I don’t know how any city of our size could spend this amount.”
According to Nunn, and City Attorney Jim Carter, the Cares Act funding comes with specific restrictions on how the money can be spent.
“This is for things like buying masks, extra disinfect, or personal protection gear, all COVID-19- related spending,” explained Nunn. “I wish we could buy a used fire truck with this money but we can’t do that.”
Nunn is going to look for ways the money can be spent to both reimburse the city for expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic already incurred and for possible future expenses.
“The money we don’t spend we have to send back and if we don’t spend enough of it we can’t ask for any more,” cautioned Nunn.
However, Nunn encouraged the council to vote to approve the federal grant.
“There’s no downside to this,” said Nunn. “We will use what we can on legitimate expenses. We won’t stretch it.
Councilman Eric Joyce noted that as the pandemic worsens more expenses could come up.
“There are things that might come up in the next month that we just don’t know about it,” said Joyce.
The council voted unanimously to accept the $66,000 in funding for the CARES Act.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, The CARES Act “was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020.”
Funding through the CARES Act is divided up between assisting state and local government, small businesses, workers and families, and preserving jobs for American Industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.