City council discusses stimulus guidelines

Mission City Council gathered for a workshop on April 14 to discuss the preliminary guidelines for the $24.3 million in recovery funds the city will receive from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Last month President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, providing $1.9 trillion for COVID-19 relief.

The U.S Treasury has specific guidelines for how each entity can use the funds they will be receiving. Although the treasury hasn’t released a full set of guidelines, they have given a few preliminary eligible categories for how state and local governments can utilize these funds.

City Manager Randy Perez said they are expected to receive the monies over a two-year period — 50 percent in May 2021 and 50 percent in 2022. Perez said he assumes the second round will be in May 2022, but the treasury has not yet released that information.

Council discussed the preliminary categories which are as follows:
● A) to respond to public health emergency w/ respect to COVID-19 or its negative economic impacts including assistance to households,       small businesses, nonprofits or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality
● B) to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible     workers of state, territory or tribal government that are performing such essential work or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work
● C) for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue of such state, territory or tribal government due to       COVID-19 public health emergencies relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year before the emergency (2018-2019)
● D) to make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure

Mission currently has more than $11.1 million in expenditures through monies from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020, was enacted to address the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city manager and his staff have already put together a few ideas for different projects within each eligible category for the American Rescue Plan based on the city’s COVID expenditures. Some of the preliminary projects include additional teleworking capabilities, renovations to facilities to meet COVID compliance, revenue replacement for parks and rec programs, police camera systems and citywide Wi-Fi with a potential partnership with the local school districts.

Per category “B” under the treasury’s guidelines, the recovery funds could be used for premium payments to essential workers. Essential workers would be eligible for an additional $25,000 per person, or not more than $13 an hour per person. But because the treasury has not released a definition for what specifically constitutes an essential worker, Perez said he and his staff are waiting to determine how the funds would be used for this category.

City council made no final decisions during the workshop. Following the discussion, Mayor Armando O’Caña recommended the council continue combing over the paperwork to determine if anything should be changed or added. Discussion will continue once the full set of guidelines are released by the U.S. Treasury.

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