Local governments in Georgia still waiting on CARES Act money

Three months after Congress passed the CARES Act, with $4.1 billion earmarked for state and county governments in Georgia, county governments are saying they still haven’t received any money.

Todd Edwards, deputy legislative director for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), said the most significant challenge counties face as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and subsequent shutdowns, is loss of revenue and increased costs.

“For example, if someone working in one of our ambulances is exposed to the coronavirus, then that person has to be quarantined, but the county has to continue paying them,” Edwards said. “Then, the person who takes their place has to be paid overtime.”

The CARES Act  funding can be used only for coronavirus-related expenses from March 1 to December 1.

Local governments with more than 500,000 residents receive funding directly from the federal government, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Georgia can use a portion of the remaining $3.5 billion to help governments with less than 500,000 residents.

ACCG and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) have sent two letters to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp asking him where their money is. In the last later to Kemp dated May 21, they asked for the money to be released in three rounds.

Under the GMA and ACCG proposal, city and county governments would get a share of $373.5 million in block grants before June 30– in five days. The second round would be issued no later than Oct. 31.

Local governments would split $433.5 million to cover expenses through October 31. The final round would be allocated according to need, including any money left over from the first two rounds and an additional $433.5 million.

Edwards said the associations have yet to receive a response.

“I don’t know how much and when [the aid] will be dispersed,” he said.

Kemp’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment from the Center Square newswire.

So far, the U.S. Treasury has sent $88 million to Atlanta, $132.6 million to Cobb County, $125 million to DeKalb County, $104 million to Fulton County, and $163 million to Gwinnett County.



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