Grayson County Judge Bill Magers told county commissioners Tuesday that the state and federal government have finally rolled out their plan for helping local governments recoup their costs for COVID-19 remediation efforts.
Basically, counties like Grayson with less than 500,000 people are getting to split $1.85 billion, Magers said. He said that will be paid out at approximately $55 dollars a person.
“It is a reimbursement model. They are not just going to hand the money to us. We have to spend it first,” he said.
But it is also a 100 percent reimbursement model which means the county can get back all of what it spent from this funding source rather than the 75 percent it normally get back from FEMA.
The county, he said, is good shape for this type of allocation because Grayson County's Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers has urged the county staff to track every expense related to COVID-19 down to the penny. They have the paperwork to back up those expenditures. At this point, it is estimated that Grayson County has spent around $108,000 to fight the pandemic.
“It has to be direct costs. It not pay for roads,” Magers said. He said they can't use the money to off set lost sales taxes (for cities) or property taxes (for the county), but the counties who have documented and continue to document their costs associated with the pandemic are the ones that are going to be able to access that money.
Because the initiative is so new, he said, the exact rules are still unclear and could change. Cities in counties with less than 500,000 are allowed to file for the funds without going through the county, he said. But, he added, many of those cities have been tracking their expenses through the county so many might choose to work with the county in filing for the city's portion of those funds.
It is not clear, at this point, when that money will start going out, but all of the paperwork must be submitted by September 2020, Magers said. He urged county officials and department heads who are thinking about adding things like plexiglass dividers to improve COVID-19 safety in their offices to remember that those are the kind of costs that they can get back so those expenditures need to be tracked.