Local governments can seek COVID-19 expense reimbursements

More than $800,000 is available for Edgar County and local communities to help cover COVID-19 related expenses incurred by local government.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) recently announced the amounts available to local units of government seeking reimbursement through the Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) funds. DCEO is administering the money that is provided to the state through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The money covers a period from March 1 to Dec. 31. It is not a lump sum award of the eligible money announced by DCEO. Edgar County's CURE allotment is $260,719, and county board chairman Jeff Voight said the county submitted a request for approximately $100,000 earlier this week, when the first reimbursement cycle opened.

"We only qualified for a portion, but every week we gain," said Voigt.

He noted there is no set schedule for applying, and it is up to each unit of local government to apply when it appears there is enough accumulated expenses to seek reimbursement.

According to the DCEO website, the applications must contain documented expenses that qualify for reimbursement. Some reimbursable activities include establishing temporary public medical facilities, emergency medical response testing, obtaining personal protective equipment, installing plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizing stations and payroll expense for mitigating or responding to COVID-19.

Emergency action taken last weekend to hire Servpro to clean the courthouse after an employee was diagnosed positive for COVID-19 is an example of a reimbursable expense, and it will be part of the next request for payment.

"We have an office that is closed now. That is reimbursable," said Voigt.

Judge Steven Garst confirmed Monday, Aug. 24, the state's attorney office is closed for two weeks because all employees in that office were required to self-isolate after the assistant state's attorney tested positive for COVID-19.

Voigt credited Edgar County Treasurer Don Wiseman with having the foresight early in the pandemic for adding a line to time sheet reports for employees to record the percentage of time dealing with this health issue. Those records made it possible for the county to seek payment under the CURES program.

An unknown in this process is what happens if a unit of local government exceeds the amount already allotted through the end of the year. Voigt speculated one option is a community that does not use all of the money will be required to relinquish claim and the funds can get redistributed to other communities where the pandemic was more severe.

"We had to fill out a form with three options of we don't expect to use all of the money; we will use all of the money; or we will need more money," said Voigt. "We will need it all as time goes on."

In addition to the money made available to county government, here are the amounts allotted for the rest of Edgar County:

Brocton, $13,283; Chrisman, $55,403; Hume, $15,676; Kansas, $32,466; Metcalf, $7,797; Paris, $364,554; Redmon, $7,137; Vermilion, $9,282; and the Edgar County Public Health Department, $76,419.

Source: http://prairiepress.net/