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American Rescue Plan providing $28M to Newton cities, county
White House
The White House - photo by Special Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County and its cities will receive about $27.8 million from the American Rescue Plan legislation President Joe Biden signed recently.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will provide $4 billion to Georgia’s public schools and $8 billion to state and local governments in Georgia alone, according to information from U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia.

Newton County government spokesman Bryan Fazio said county officials are waiting to hear from the federal government before taking any steps to prepare to use the $21.7 million it is set to receive.

“The county is waiting on guidance from the Treasury (Department) for them to establish criteria and rules for eligible expenses and guidelines for reporting,” Fazio said.

Estimates provided by Johnson and the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus show Newton County local governments will receive:

• County government, $21.7 million;

• Covington, $4.48 million;

• Oxford, $740,000;

• Porterdale, $470,000;

• Newborn, $250,000;

• Mansfield, $140,000.

Local governments would receive their allocations in two parts. The first half will be given 60 days after enactment and the other half one year later, according to the National Association of Counties.

According to the National Association:

Allowable uses for recovery funds:

• Respond to or mitigate the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality. 

These examples are intended to clarify congressional intent that these activities are eligible. However, state and local activities are not limited only to these activities.

• Provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue (i.e. online, property or income tax) due to the public health emergency.

• Make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

• State and local governments can transfer the funds to a private nonprofit organization, a public benefit corporation involved in the transportation of passengers or cargo or a special-purpose unit of state or local government.

• Respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers of the county that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work.

“Premium pay” means an additional amount up to $13 per hour that is paid to an eligible worker for work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law imposes a cap of $25,000 for any single eligible worker.

• No funds shall be deposited into any pension fund.

• Any local government, including counties, that fail to comply with the federal law and related guidelines shall be required to repay the federal Treasury.

Reporting requirements for local governments:

• Local governments, including counties, are required to provide “periodic reports” providing a detailed accounting of the use of funds.

• If a state, county or municipality does not comply with any provision of this bill, they are required to repay the U.S. Treasury an equal amount to the funds used in violation.