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Sherman seeks for $1.3M COVID-19 expenses

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Members of the Sherman City Council sit in the council chambers before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the city hopes to recoup costs in relation to funds spent in 2020.

The city of Sherman expects to recoup about $1.3 million in expenses related to it's COVID-19 response throughout 2020.

This update comes as the deadline to file expenses for reimbursement under the CARES act came to a close at the end of last month. The city was allocated about $2.2 million under the act to offset the cost of its pandemic response.

City officials initially expected to use less than 20 percent of these funds, however creative use of these funds and documentation allowed the city to claim about 59 percent of its share.

"We were able to use more of the funds than we originally thought (we would)," Finance Director Mary Lawrence said. "That was generally because we were able to see what other cities were able to do with their funds. So, we felt that was a pretty good precedent to follow." 

The city of Sherman is seeking $1.3 million in reimbursement funding for its COVID-19 response through the CARES Act.

Lawrence said the largest percentage of the funds was used for manpower and overtime in the response. The majority of this went to the fire department, who were caught understaffed during the pandemic, leading to overtime.

The COVID-19 pandemic started at the same time that the city was testing new recruits for the department. Due to the pandemic, this testing was significantly set back for many cities, including Sherman and Denison.

"When COVID started, the fire department was testing for new firefighters and they were not able to even really start the process because we couldn't get people together to test," Lawrence said.

Due to these openings, overtime was used to fill in the gaps in demand.

The department is also requesting more than $500,000 in reimbursement related to new gear and equipment that was purchased during the pandemic.

City staff said the new outfits and bunker gear will allow the department to swap out and launder gear that may have been exposed to the virus and allow firefighters to have a backup set.

Other expenses included a partnership with SISD to help offset the purchase cost of new technology related to distance learning for students who are not in the classroom.

Despite filling the paperwork and providing documentation, the city has not received approval for the reimbursements yet.

"We expect those approvals, but we don't have clarification on that," Lawrence said.