Maine directs $35 million to help local governments cover COVID-19 costs

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 7:15am

    AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration has announced it is dedicating $35 million of Maine’s $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funding provided through the CARES Act to help local and tribal governments and other qualified entities cover costs incurred as a result of COVID-19.

    Under the Disaster Declaration requested by Governor Mills and approved by the President, the Federal Emergency Management Agency traditionally provides 75 percent reimbursement of disaster costs with a 15 percent state match and a 10 percent local match, per a news release. 

    With the announcement, the Administration will use federal funds allocated to cover the local match, providing financial relief to municipalities and others that are confronting stretched budgets.

    “Municipalities across Maine are on the frontline of battling COVID-19,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With this action, I hope State government can somewhat ease the financial burden that budget-crunched municipalities face as we continue to confront this pandemic together. I also hope the Federal government will provide greater financial support and more flexibility in the use of Federal funds so that the State may be able to be more helpful in the future.”

    Coronavirus Relief Funds were provided to states through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

    Under federal law, eligible uses of the CRF must be expenses related to COVID-19, not accounted for in the most recently approved budget, and incurred between March 1 and December 30. 

    “Our Administration continues to look for ways to support local and tribal governments and other qualified entities during this challenging time, and we believe this is a helpful step,” said Kirsten Figueroa, Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

    On May 20, the U.S. Treasury Department issued new guidance that the CRF can be used for this 25 percent local match and written assurance of that guidance is expected in the near future. Given that CRF cannot be used to backfill for government revenue losses, many local government expenses directly related to COVID-19 are likely eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

    Applicants who may be eligible are encouraged to apply for assistance by contacting the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) at maine.recovery@maine.gov. More information about the match assistance provided with CRF can be found on the State of Maine Bureau of the Budget website.