City to recoup losses first, mayor says

Potential recommendations for use of any remainder of $12M federal COVID funding could follow

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Rome is slated to receive $12.07 million in federal COVID recovery monies, and Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said Monday the city must first determine its loss revenue during the pandemic before other funding can be allocated.

Accepting a grant presented to the city for coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery is among the agenda items to be discussed at the next Common Council meeting to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 26. Sixteen members of the public will be allowed in Common Council Chambers at City Hall for the meeting, which will otherwise be held via livestream and audio stream through Webex.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has contacted the city about a grant in the amount of $12,067,211 for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery. Funds are to be spent in conformity with the requirements of the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which was signed into law on March 11.

“We must determine the loss revenue first, which is the first thing we need to take care of with that type of funding,” said Izzo. “Once we have that number we can work with the rest of the allocations, and recommendations can be made for what we can do with that funding,” based on Department of Treasury guidelines and recommendations.

According to the most recent Department of Treasury guidelines, issued on May 10, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds are designed to “provide eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments with a substantial infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild a stronger, and more equitable economy as the country recovers.”

Recipients, the Treasury adds, may use the funds to:

Support public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff;

Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector;

Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic;

Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors; and/or

Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.

According to the National League of Cities, there are a number of formal procedural steps communities have to take to receive the funding, but there are also informal steps communities should take to prepare for the funding, including assessing government operations and community needs to develop a plan for recovery; gathering a team of internal and external stakeholders, such as city residents; and working on building connections across systems and levels.    

Local governments will receive funds in two tranches, with 50% provided beginning in May 2021 and the balance delivered approximately 12 months later, according to the Treasury Department.

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