April 22, 2020
OML UPDATE AT A GLANCE
- Thank you to all who reached out to their members of Congress and took part in the tremendous efforts to urge Congress to include financial relief for state and local governments impacted by COVID-19 in the interim emergency funding package. Despite this effort, there was no funding for state or local governments in the $484 billion allocated in the final legislation. Discussion in Congress is ongoing regarding a phase 4 coronavirus relief package. It is important for our members to keep communicating with their Congressional delegation on the importance of direct funding for local governments. You can read more in the article below.
- The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) will begin sending up to $1.6 billion in dividends this week to Ohio employers in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. Approximately $1.4 billion will go to private employers and nearly $200 million will go to local government taxing districts. You can find a county breakdown of the dividend to public employers HEREand an FAQ on these dividends HERE.
- Gov. DeWine has begun the multi-phased process of repealing the Stay at Home order by allowing elective surgeries and procedures to be phased in. Healthcare providers are being asked to reassess postponed procedures and surgeries in the light of concerns such as current health situation and quality of life. Patients must be informed of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and how that would impact the post-operative recovery process.
INFORMATION ON OHIO ALLOCATION OF CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FROM THE CARES ACT
The League thanks Ohio Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks for providing an overview of the allocation provided by the CARES Act in the phase 3 federal stimulus relief legislation and how the breakdown for state and local government funding has been established.
Ohio's total allocation is $4.5 billion. Of that amount, up to 45% (or $2 billion) can be allocated directly by the U.S. Treasury to local governments over 500,000 in population. I
this is City of Columbus, and five counties: Franklin, Cuyahoga, Summit, Hamilton, Montgomery. Based on estimates from the latest census data online and the formula in the CARES Act, it looks like between $750 and $800 million will be directly allocated to these jurisdictions if they all applied for the funding.
The remaining portion of that local 45% (which is $1.2 billion) would go through the state for disbursement. State leaders are still awaiting on guidance from the U.S. Treasury about whether or not sub-grants can be made to local governments, as well as the parameters for the allowable uses of the funds.
According to the language in the CARES Act, the Coronavirus Relief Funds can be used to cover expenses that:
- are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19);
- were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
- were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.
You can find more information from the U.S. Treasury on the Coronavirus Relief Fund HERE
GOV. DEWINE CONTINUES OHIO COVID-19 RESPONSE
- Students will continue to go to school remotely for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. No decisions have been made yet regarding whether or not schools will reopen in the fall.
- As of Wednesday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 14,117 cases of coronavirus, 610 deaths, 2,882 hospitalizations and 880 ICU admissions.
Local Government Updates:
- The Ohio Dept. of Agriculture is waiving the required $50,000 local match for the Agricultural Society Facilities Grant Program. Ohio's operating budget set aside this grant funding to help fairs make necessary facilities and grounds improvements. Fairs could apply for the $50,000 grant with a required $50,000 from local governments and businesses. Fair managers have until May 30th to apply via the Ohio Department of Agriculture's website.
Correctional Institutions Update:
- The Ohio Department of Youth Services has announced they now have their first positive case of COVID-19 among the juvenile corrections population.
- A new Testing Strike Force team has been created and will be led by former Governors Richard Celeste and Bob Taft. The Strike Force will work with leaders from business, academia and public health to help Ohio source critical testing items such as reagents. Gov. DeWine also announced that the FDA has approved the use of a new reagent for testing developed by Thermo Fisher which will help with the state's testing capabilities.
- The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test with a home collection option for COVID-19. You can find more information HERE.
- Because COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minority groups in Ohio and across the country, Gov. DeWine has announced the formation of a new Minority Health Strike Force. You can find more information HERE.
- The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will collect more specific information regarding cases of COVID-19 in Ohio nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. Nursing home and assisted living data will include COVID-19 cases broken down by the number of residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 by facility and county. Data will be posted to coronavirus.Ohio.Gov every Wednesday. Ohio will also begin reporting aggregate death data for nursing homes and assisted living facilities at the county level.
- The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has been directed to modify the Ohio Disease Reporting System to accurately collect case information for direct care providers at hospitals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The data, which will be available soon on Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov, will be listed by each hospital.
- LabCorp and Quest currently have no backlog of samples and have added more testing capacity. In response to the private laboratories' improved turnaround times, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will again allow hospitals to utilize commercial laboratories in addition to hospital laboratories performing COVID-19 testing.
SENATE PASSES $484 BILLION INTERIM CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILL WITH NO LOCAL FUNDING
The Senate has passed a $484 billion interim coronavirus funding bill yesterday. The final version of the bill includes:
- $322 billion will replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funds last Thursday;
- $60 billion for loans and grants for the Small Business Administrations Economic Injury Disaster Loan program;
- $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers;
- $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.
The House is expected to vote on Thursday. The President has signaled his support for this bill and that he will sign it once the bill is passed.
State and local governments must now wait for the next bill for budget relief and revenue replacement in response to losses stemming from COVID-19, if there is one. Currently, the fate of a phase 4 federal relief package is unknown.
Thank you to all who reached out to their members of Congress to urge for funding for state and local governments. We encourage our members to immediately reach out to their members of Congress to support a phase 4 federal relief package that would provide direct and flexible financial relief for cities and villages facing steep losses in revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout. Ohio's Congressional delegation has been sent to Washington, D.C., to assist their communities back home and those communities need immediate assistance. Now is the time for Ohio's local leadership to ring the alarm bell and call on members of Congress to remind them of their duty to help our cities and villages.
Here is other legislation being discussed in Congress that would impact local governments:
- U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D - NJ) and John Rutherford (R - FL), along with 175 of their Democratic and Republican House colleagues, sent a bipartisan letter to the White House urging President Trump to eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) non-Federal cost share required under the COVID-19 emergency and major disaster declarations. The current formula requires states to pay 25% of public assistance costs while the federal government is responsible for 75% of the costs. According to federal regulations, at the direction of the President, FEMA can increase the federal cost-share for an emergency response to 100% if warranted by the needs of a disaster.
- Waiving the cost-share will allow local governments to free up additional money that can be used to shore up their budgets. The additional resources will also ensure that local governments can continue to support their frontline personnel to keep their communities safe.
- The letter is supported by the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, International City/County Management Association, National Association of Counties, National Governors Association, and the National Volunteer Fire Council
- We encourage members to contact their Congressional delegation and urge them to support this initiative. You can find copy of the letter HERE.
- As we have discussed in previous bulletins, the Coronavirus Community Relief Act is still pending in both the House and Senate in two identical bills. This legislation would help ease the fiscal issues faced by smaller communities who did not get money from the CARES Act.
- There is a proposal being put together by Senators Menendez of New Jersey and Cassidy of Louisiana that would provide $500 billion to state and local governments. The Menendez/Cassidy legislation includes language that would limit funds so that they go only to cities, towns, or villages with 50,000 or more residents. 780 municipalities would qualify for this with that threshold. A state such as Vermont, for example, has no municipalities that would qualify under the Menendez/Cassidy bill. The Menendez/Cassidy bill also provides monies so that states can make up lost revenue. There is no requirement that the state will pass down money to the local governments to make up for local shortfalls.
- Finally, the seven leading organizations representing state and local governments at the federal level called on Congress to 'immediately provide robust, flexible relief' to state, territorial and local governments as part an interim relief package for the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the statement in full HERE.
U.S. SEN. BROWN WRITES LETTER CALLING FOR
FUNDING FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has written a letter to Senate Leaders calling for robust, dedicated and flexible funding for state and local governments in any future stimulus package. He also pushed for flexibility on how existing CARES Act funding may be spent.
In his letter, Brown called on Congress to build on the original investment for state and local governments he worked to secure in the CARES Act and provide local governments the resources they need during the coronavirus pandemic. He outlined that funding for state and local governments needs to be robust, dedicated and flexible. You can read his letter in full HERE
IN THE NEWS: THE
OHIO MUNICIPAL LEAGUE
Here are the articles that featured the Ohio Municipal League that were published over the last week:
- Columbus Dispatch: "Central Ohio cities face budget cuts, use of emergency funds." Read the full article HERE.
- Dayton Daily News: "Dayton, Kettering mayors: Cities face safety force cuts without COVID-19 relief." Read the full article HERE.
- Dayton Daily News: "Dayton-area cities brace for income tax loss, cuts from COVID-19." Read the full article HERE.
- Energy News Network: "Ohio electric vehicle legislation pushed to back burner amid pandemic response." Read full article HERE.
- Geauga County Maple Leaf: "Chardon Council Responds to GLTG Closing." Read the full article HERE.