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Monday, July 6, 2020

Coronavirus Relief Funds Available for Some Cook County and Downstate Local Governments

The federal CARES Act established a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states and eligible local governments with more than 500,000 in population. In Illinois, those direct recipients include the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties. While announcements from other counties are expected soon, last week Cook County announced applications are now available to pass through Coronavirus Relief Funds to its suburban municipalities, townships, and fire protection districts. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced initial details for its Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (or Local CURE) Support Program to pass funds through to “downstate” local governments outside Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties.

Suburban Cook County Municipalities, Townships, and Fire Protection Districts

Funding Allocation
Suburban Cook County municipalities, townships, and fire protection districts (“municipalities”) may apply for reimbursement of qualifying expenses related to COVID-19 subject to their allocated funding. Cook County has assigned $51,000,000 to fund the Cook County COVID-19 Funding Response Plan. Allocations for each municipality were determined based on immediate needs to respond to the Pandemic, municipal population, municipal median income, and municipal public health statistics. Specifically, Cook County is allocating $5.90 per person to each suburban municipality, plus an additional allocation based on a weighted calculation of four demographic and public health metrics: 1) percent population in disinvested areas; 2) median income; 3) COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents; and 4) tax base per capita.

Eligible Expenses
Cook County will reimburse eligible municipalities for COVID-19-related expenditures consistent with Federal Treasury CRF Eligibility guidelines, are similar to the expenses eligible for reimbursement through the Local CURE Program described below. Funds are not eligible for loss of revenues many local jurisdictions are facing and only authorized for direct COVID-19 expenses.

The application is accessible on the Cook County website and should be submitted to SuburbanCovidFundingRequest@cookcountyil.gov with an intergovernmental agreement and Vendor ID form. Municipalities may apply for either the full amount or partial amounts of this first allocation. A decision should be returned within 5-10 days after the application is submitted, and checks should be issued approximately 30 days following the receipt of a completed application.

Expenditure documentation should support all amount(s) requested for funding, and must include copies of receipts, invoices, budgets, contracts, timesheets, etc. Cook County may conduct an audit of suburban municipality Coronavirus Relief Fund reimbursements to ensure they are consistent with federal treasury guidelines. Potential applicants may review further guidance on Cook County’s website.

Local CURE Funds for Downstate Local Governments

Local CURE funds will be automatically allotted for downstate municipalities, counties, and local health departments, and those counties and municipalities can request reimbursements in pre-determined “not to exceed” amounts. Other downstate local governments must apply for an allotment between July 6, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. until July 17, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. Local governments serving areas that have been most disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency will be prioritized in the application process.

Eligible Expenses
DCEO announced it will hold technical assistance calls and webinars in mid-July and on July 29, 2020 before local governments may begin requesting reimbursements on August 1, 2020. Subject to forthcoming emergency rules, DCEO offered the following information about eligible expenses: 

  • Local CURE funds may only be used to cover COVID-19 related expenses incurred from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020.
  • Eligible expenses must have not been accounted for in the local government’s budget as of March 27, 2020 (when the CARES Act was enacted).
  • To receive reimbursement, a description and rationale for costs and how they were necessary and relate to COVID-19 must be included with electronic documentation of expenditures.

Examples of eligible expenses include:

o    Medical expenses;
o    Public health expenses;
o   Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services were substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to COVID-19;
o   Expenses for actions taken to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 related public health measures; and
o   Any other COVID-19 expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government.

Examples of ineligible expenses include reimbursement of donors, severance pay, legal settlements, and government revenue shortfalls.

Downstate local governments can prepare to submit their COVID-19 related expenses for reimbursement by organizing them in an electronic format with appropriate descriptions and eligibility rationales. Local governments seeking reimbursement should also be registered with SAM.gov.

Post authored by Daniel J. Bolin and Catherine Coghlan


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