|April 15, 2020
OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
- The Coronavirus Community Relief Act (HR6467) provides $250 billion to cities and villages with a population below 500,000 to offset costs reasonably associated with COVID-19. The bill will soon have 108 cosponsors, including Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16) and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07). The Senate has introduced an equivalent bill. Please continue to call your members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor this bill. You can find more information on this bill HERE.
- This week, the Ohio Controlling Board approved over $248 million for the Ohio Coronavirus Relief Fund along with $173.9 million in extra funding from the CARES Act. The money will be used for needs that include expanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, building out temporary medical facilities, producing personal protective equipment (PPE) and providing ventilators and COVID-19 testing.
- The Dispute Resolution Commission, which was created to resolve cases where businesses are being treated as essential in one jurisdiction and non-essential in another, have issued their first rulings. Pet groomers were ruled non-essential. Car washes can operate if they only have the bare minimum of employees onsite that do not interact with the customers or touch the vehicles. Businesses that sell CBD products were ruled as non-essential, while state licensed medical marijuana dispensaries were ruled as essential.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a Rural Resource Guide detailing programs that can provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource guide offers funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America. You can access the resource guide HERE.
GOV. DEWINE CONTINUES CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
- As of Wednesday afternoon, Ohio has 7,791 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 361 deaths, 2,237 hospitalizations and 677 ICU admissions.
- Ohio Dept. of Health Dir. Dr. Acton announced a new order requiring local health departments to provide the names and addresses of COVID-19-positive individuals to their jurisdictions' dispatch agency or agencies. This information is to be kept confidential by those dispatch agencies, but by knowing in advance if they will be dealing with a COVID-19-positive individual, first responders will be better prepared and ensure they arrive at a scene with necessary personal protective equipment. This precaution had been requested by the League during our participation in the Governor's COVID-19 Local Government Impact Strike Force.
- The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has issued an order requiring long-term care facilities to notify residents and families within 24 hours of a resident or staff member becoming infected. The administration will provide a list of long-term care facilities where an associated individual has tested positive on the coronavirus.Ohio.Gov website as information becomes available.
- Gov. DeWine announced that in-person sales of liquor in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson, and Belmont Counties will be restricted only to Ohioans since people from Pennsylvania have been coming into these counties for the sole purpose of purchasing liquor. Individuals in those counties must present a valid Ohio photo ID or a valid military photo ID. Sale of liquor to a person with a valid non-Ohio photo ID may only occur with additional information showing that the person resides in Ohio. You can find a copy of the order HERE.
- The Governor has also signed an Executive Order providing almost $5 million in emergency funding from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant to support Ohio's 12 Feeding America foodbanks and the statewide hunger relief network. Of this funding, $1 million is earmarked for the Agricultural Clearance Program and an additional $1 million has been granted to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.
- The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) has acted on "emergency overcrowding" in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) and granted the Governor's requested release of a total of 246 more inmates within 90 days of their scheduled reentry this week.
- The Governor has authorized the DRC to continue to use the administration's specific criteria as more inmates qualify for release within 90 days to identify those who may qualify for release under the limited overcrowding statute.
- Three inmates at the Pickaway Correctional Institution have passed away as a result of the coronavirus.
- The Ohio National Guard will begin providing assistance at the Pickaway Correctional Institution, as a number of medical staff are out sick due to COVID-19. They will provide triage support, take temperatures and help with non-COVID cases.
FEDERAL UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
Federal Funding for Local Governments:
- The Treasury Department announced that 171 counties and cities would qualify for direct federal aid under the CARES Act. This includes municipalities with a population of over 500,000. These local governments must provide payment information and required supporting documentation through an accessible electronic portal by no later than 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time on April 17. Qualifying local governments must apply HERE.
- While NLC vigorously argued that language in the CARES Act requires Treasury to provide access to cities, towns, and villages no matter the size of their population, NLC's argument did not carry the day.
- The National League of Cities had questions about how overlapping jurisdictions would be handled. The U.S. Treasury has provided clarity on how it will be handled, which you can find HERE.
- As we reported last week, the Federal Reserve has announced that it would open the Municipal Liquidity Facility to support lending to cities with a population that exceeds 1 million, counties with population that exceeds 2 million, all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These local governments that qualify for the Facility are Eligible Issuers.
- Smaller municipalities can also participate in the liquidity facility by issuing a "similar note" to the one their state sold to the Federal Reserve. The state could then purchase the note from that municipality, thereby providing liquidity to the municipality.
- The Federal Reserve will be lending to Eligible Issuers on a recourse basis, which will allow Eligible Issuers to be sued if they fail to payback their loan. There is no forgiveness of such loans.
- The Department of the Treasury under the CARES Act will make an initial equity investment of $35 billion. The fund will have the ability to purchase up to $500 billion of Eligible Notes.
- Eligible Notes are tax anticipation notes, tax and revenue anticipation notes, and bond anticipation notes, and another similar short-term note issued by Eligible Issuers. The note may not have a maturity date later than 24 months from the date of issuance. In other words, a municipality has to pay back the loan within 2 years.
- There is no mandate for the state to purchase notes from smaller issuers, and the state is responsible for the issuances they purchase. A State may request the fund purchase more Notes from the State in order to assist smaller political subdivisions.
- You can read more from NLC about the Municipal Liquidity Facility HERE.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened an application period for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants. These grants provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities. The application period will close at 5PM ET on May 15. You can learn more about other FEMA programs at https://www.fema.gov/fema-bulletin.
- The Federal Aviation Administration provided a document on how $10 billion from the CARES Act will be distributed by state and specific airports. You can find that document HERE and you can find more information at www.faa.gov/airports/cares_act.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES (NLC) RELEASES SURVEY RESULTS ON COVID-19 IMPACTS
The National League of Cities (NLC) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a joint survey of more than 2,400 cities, towns, and villages representing approximately 93 million people across America.
Some of the top results revealed that:
- 88% of respondents anticipate a revenue decline caused specifically by COVID-19;
- Over half indicated that public services will be impacted;
- A number of cities are considering furloughing employees or even laying them off.
The survey covered municipalities from smaller cities with population lower than 50,000 to some of the biggest cities in the nation. 9 out of every 10 cities that responded to the survey said they anticipate revenue shortfalls. Over 1,100 municipalities are preparing to decrease public services, while approximately 600 respondents anticipate they will have to lay off employees. 1,000 cities reported that the decline in revenues will impact local police departments and other public safety services. You can find graphics of the survey results HERE
These survey results illustrate the importance of contacting your members of Congress and urging them to support the Coronavirus Community Relief Act (HR6467),which would provide $250 billion to cities and villages with a population below 500,000. We encourage our members to contact their Congressperson and urge them to support direct funding for all local governments. You can access a mailing list of Ohio's Congressional delegation HERE
OHIO STATE AUDITOR URGES LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PREPARE FOR SUBSTANTIAL REVENUE DECLINE
Ohio Auditor Keith Faber has publicly stated that local governments should be preparing for a substantial decline in revenue, just as the state is expecting a steep decline in revenue. In his remarks, Faber noted that in the short term, he is most concerned with how smaller cities will fare due to their heavy reliance on the income tax. He stated that smaller counties and their reliance on the sales tax will feel more immediate effects, while school districts and townships will feel a financial impact later with property taxes are affected.
Faber also announced that his office is building a platform on the Auditor's website that will allow local governments to post questions and best practices as they navigate the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. His office is also working to reduce the costs incurred by local governments for state audits by expanding the use of basic audits for local governments with smaller budgets.
Additionally, the Auditor's office will be making use of the emergency provisions in HB 197 that allow the expanded use of Agreed Upon Procedures (AUP) audits. Faber has also stated he is working on a technical fix to that provision, as the language currently limits that expanded use to the duration of the emergency declaration while audits are conducted a year in arrears. The Auditor has also said he is prepared to offer latitude for local governments being audited during this time due to the necessity of remote working and other factors.