Municipal FAQs

  • Question
    Can CARES Act Funds be used to offset revenue lost due to the COVID-19 public health emergency?
  • Response
    No. In order to be eligible for CARES Act Funds, uses must be necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, not budgeted as of March 27, 2020,and incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

 

  • Question
    How can we access CARES Act Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds?
  • Response
    Municipalities can pursue federal Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds for education related costs due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is coordinating that grant program.

 

  • Question
    If someone is laid off, is the unemployment a reimbursable expense?
  • Response
    The CARES Act may only be used to cover costs incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 30, 2020. Unemployment insurance costs directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 are eligible provided the costs will not be reimbursed by any other program. In other words, you cannot get reimbursed twice for the same costs.  

           

  • Question
    Would KIOSK machines to take cash payments in high traffic Town locations to mitigate cash handling be considered a reimbursable COVID expense?
  • Response
    If the purchase was made to respond to the public health emergency, purchase of KIOSK machines to take cash payments in high traffic Town locations to mitigate cash handling would be an eligible use.  

 

  • Question
    Would an air ventilation system that removes or mitigates virus pathogens in municipal facilities be a reimbursable expenditure for COVID-19?
  • Response
  • If the purchase was made to respond to the public health emergency, purchase of an air ventilation system that removes or mitigates virus pathogens in municipal facilities would be an eligible use.  

 

  • Question
    May funds be used to satisfy non-federal matching requirements for FEMA funding?
  • Response
    The Treasury Department has clarified that CARES Act Funds may be used to meet the 25% non-federal matching requirements for Stafford Act FEMA assistance to the extent such matching requirements entail COVID-19-related costs that otherwise satisfy the CARES Act's eligibility criteria and FEMA's requirements.  Regardless of the use of Fund payments for such purposes, FEMA funding is still dependent on FEMA's determination of eligibility under the Stafford Act.  Under no circumstances may CARES Act Funds be used for expenses that are reimbursed or will be reimbursed with other federal funds.

 

  • Question
    May Relief Fund Dollars be spent on major capital projects such as construction or the purchase of emergency vehicles?
  • Response
    Such costs are typically not eligible for Relief Fund reimbursement, however the Treasury Department has indicated that certain capital projects or purchases directly related to the community's COVID-19 response may be reimbursable.  Examples may include necessary costs to modify spaces for purposes of improving social distancing measures, improvements to HVAC or ventilation systems to prevent the spread of the virus, emergency transportation costs, and similar items, subject to the requirements of the CARES Act.


     
  • Question
    Can a municipality use CARES Act funds to rent or lease warehouse space to move classroom materials, rugs, supplies, book shelves, desks, and other items to comply with the federal and state social distancing guidelines?
  • Response
    If the cost to rent or lease a warehouse to store equipment is necessary to be able to respond to the public health emergency related to COVID-19, then the costs incurred for the lease between March 1 and December 30, 2020 is a potentially allowable expense.  Such requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, subject to the requirements of the CARES Act.

     
  • Question
    Can a city or town use CARES Act funding to convert municipal buildings and facilities into classroom space to comply with state school reopening guidelines?
  • Response
    Generally, major capital projects which provide broad potential economic development in a community will not constitute an allowable cost under the CARES Act.  Smaller projects - including, for example, the creation of temporary facilities to assist social distancing protocols - necessary to respond to the public health emergency related to COVID-19 are evaluated on a case-by-case basis subject to the requirements of the CARES Act.

     
  • Question
    Can CARES Act funds be used to purchase illuminated sign boards to direct residents in multiple lanquages to testing sites and provide information about other COVID-19 pandemic related resources?
  • Response
    If the signs are necessary to respond to the public health emergency related to COVID-19, such signs may be considered an allowable expense, subject to the requirements of the CARES Act.

 

  • Question
    Would the cost of reimbursing employees for their out of pocket portion of the cost to get a COVID-19 test done be reimbursable through CARES Act funds?
  • Response
    Employee benefit expenses - including out of pocket employee expenses - are not reimbursable under the CARES Act.

     
  • Question
    Can a municipality use CARES Act funds for payroll expenses for employees hired for the specific purpose of monitoring visitors for COVID-19 symptoms, asking COVID-19 related questions of building visitors, and contact tracing in coordination with the public health department?
  • Response
    The Treasury Department has stated that certain payroll expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 may be reimbursable if the positions are "substantially dedicated" to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Broad categories of examples of eligible payroll expenses provided are public safety, public health, health care, human services, and other similar employees, so long as those employees' duties are substantially dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Employees hired for the dedicated purpose of monitoring visitors for COVID-19 symptoms, asking COVID-19 related questions of visitors, contact tracing in coordination with the public health department, and other public health related duties necessary to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis would likely qualify for reimbursement, subject to the requirements of the CARES Act.