The city of Sherman is pursuing federal assistance funds to help offset the cost of the city’s COVID-19 response.


On Monday, the City Council give staff the green light to seek up to $2.2 million in grant funding through Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.


“This is a grant through the CARES Act and organized by the Texas Department of Emergency Management,” Sherman Finance Director Mary Lawrence said. “We were allotted $55 per capita which totals about $2.2 million.”


As a part of the CARES Act, $11.24 billion of funding was allocated for the state of Texas. Of that, $5.06 billion was made available for local governments.


The majority of the funds — $3.2 billion has already been allocated for 18 counties and cities with a population over 500,000. The remaining $1.85 billion will be split across the rest of the state.


Under the grant, these funds can be used to offset certain expenses incurred by the city related to its COVID-19 response for the remainder of the year.


These expenses include protective equipment, cleaning supplies but also manpower hours related directly to the the city’s response. City staff said this would likely be seen most prominently in the fire department.


Lawrence noted that this could not be used to make up any budget shortfalls that occurred due to the pandemic.


After being approved, the city can immediately draw down 20 percent of the grant. However, Lawrence said she was uncertain if the city would use even this percentage as the requirements


With regard to additional funding, Lawrence mentioned that a mortgage, rent and utility assistance program could be possible. However she was unsure how much funding could be used for it.


Last month, Denison took similar steps when it pursued $1.4 million under the grant. At the time, city officials estimated that Denison had spent about $450,000 in its response effort.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.