New COVID relief legislation: No new state and local aid, but more time to use up remaining funds

State, local, and tribal agencies that received funding from the CARES Act will have time beyond the original deadline today to spend funds appropriated to them instead of returning them. The new deadline is December 31, 2021 — a date set by the coronavirus relief bill effective earlier this week.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund was established to cover expenses specific to the COVID-19 outbreak that otherwise cannot be tapped from the general budget.

The latest NCPRO weekly report shows that about 93% of the $3.6 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund has been disbursed. The CRF assistance designated for education has been exhausted.

“The extension of the CRF deadline may help some local governments who were unable to spend their funds prior to the December 30, 2020 deadline,” said Jamilla Hawkins, the spokesperson for the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office created by the General Assembly earlier this year. The extension likely benefits certain procurements such as those for Personal Protective Equipment that are only paid after shipments are received.

Recipients eligible for the CRF are state agencies, schools, nonprofits, hospitals, and counties. The use of these funds should directly relate to COVID-19 relief, such as acquiring PPEs, expanding testing, paid leave for public employees, etc.

Each county submitted its plans and received funding based on its population. The appropriations were approved by the General Assembly.

“The Governor has repeatedly joined other Governors and urged Congress to include state and local aid,” said Hawkins in an email.

Hawkins said the CRF has been vitally important and helped people getting food the community organizations, and prevent evictions through the HOPE program.

A tracker through the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee shows that the Wake County Public School System and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership both received no less than $8 million among reported projects. The tool displays the status of project progress.

NCPRO will submit a report of all expenditures through the end of 2020 to the Treasury Department in January of 2021. Hawkins said the reports will be available soon after that.

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