By Arnold Adler
NORWALK — The city will use $1.3 million in federal funds to help cover unexpected costs to the community from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The informational report was received and filed by City Council Sept. 1, a spokesperson said.
Deputy City Manager Richard A. Rojas and Finance Director Jana Stuard, in a written report to the council, explained that the $1.3 million has been allocated to Norwalk through “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) enacted by Congress March 27 in response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.”
The funds will be used for “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency, that were not accounted for in the (city) budget most recently approved” March 27, and will be incurred during the period that begins on March 1, and ends Dec. 30, Rojas and Stuard said in their report.
They noted that the CARES Act identifies six categories eligible for funding. They are: medical expenses, public health expenses, substantially dedicated payroll expenses, expenses to comply with public health measures and mitigation of COVID-19, economic support and other expenses.
“Funds cannot be used to backfill lost revenues, payroll or benefits of employee duties not ‘substantially dedicated’ to COVID-19, workforce bonuses or damages covered by insurance,” the report added.
Medical expenses could be testing, including serological/anti-body testing.
Public health expenses might include communication/enforcement-public health orders, acquisition and distribution of medical and protective supplies, cleaning supplies for public health and safety staff, disinfection of public areas and other facilities, technical assistance on mitigation, public safety measures in response to COVID-19 and quarantining individuals.
It would also cover substantially dedicated payroll expenses or repurposed employees to previously unbudgeted functions.
Funds also could be used to comply with public health measures and mitigate the effects of COVID-19, including telework capabilities for public employees, providing paid sick, paid family and medical leave to public employees and caring for homeless and vulnerable population.
Economic support could include grants to small businesses for costs of business interruption, financial assistance for overdue rent or mortgages to avoid eviction and unemployment insurance cost.
“In addition to the CARES Act funding, the city may also request reimbursement of costs directly related to COVID-19 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will reimburse 75%. The remaining 25% can be covered by CARES Act funds,” Rojas and Stuard said in their report.