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Kemp issues guidance for CARES Act funds to state counties, communities
Newton County, local municipalities could get $6.1 million combined during Phase One
Governor Brian Kemp
Governor Brian Kemp dresses the media during a press conference on March 12, 2020 about COVID-19. - photo by Special to The Covington News

Gov. Brian Kemp recently provided communities across the state a proverbial roadmap for receiving funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Newton’s local governments could get more than $6 million during the first phase.

The CARES Act was originally passed by Congress on March 27, which provided resources to governments, businesses and individuals to help combat the effects of COVID-19. Monday, the governor issued a letter to city and county leaders to address questions of how funds will be disbursed and how much would be allotted. According to Kemp, the U.S. Treasury provided the state of Georgia approximately $4.1 billion for coronavirus-related expenses and up to 45% of the funds could be transferred to local governments “if the transfer qualifies as a necessary expenditure incurred due to the public health emergency.”

In his letter, Kemp stated that his office in conjunction with several partners, including the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and the State Accounting Office, to manage the disbursement process.

“The plan for CRF allocations and disbursements is a phased, measured approach,” Kemp stated in the letter. “It is critical that funding be released to cities and counties experiencing an immediate need as quickly as possible. It is also important that funding be disbursed equitably, but with the knowledge that some of our hardest-hit communities will need more assistance than others. I encourage cities and counties to work together to address expenses or challenges that cross jurisdictional lines.”

The local government maximum share of funding is approximately $1.8 billion, Kemp stated. He said five governments with populations of more than 500,000 people received direct allocations, which left $1.23 billion.

As part of what he deemed “Phase One” of the allocation plan, Kemp said 30% of the $1.23 billion would be distributed to the local governments that did not get a direct allocation and are not located in a county that received a direct allocation; those counties were Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. Kemp said those governments would have access to request funding once an application portal was made available.

According to a breakdown of the plan, Newton County (unincorporated) could receive nearly $4.9 million during Phase One. Covington would receive $743,651; Mansfield would receive $23,138; Newborn would receive $40,988; Oxford would receive $122,808; Porterdale would receive $77,370. Social Circle, split between Newton and Walton counties, would receive $237,868 total.

The remaining 70% of the $1.23 billion would be available on a “reimbursement basis,” Kemp said. Phase One funding must be used for eligible expenses by Sept. 1 or else the funding could be recalled or reallocated.

“Once Phase One funding is exhausted, additional program and disbursement criteria for the remainder of the $1.23 billion will be developed and evaluated to ensure that there is flexibility to respond to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kemp stated.

Local governments will be required to apply for funding during Phase One through an online portal that has not accessible at this time, but should be launched in the near future, Kemp said. 

“Georgia is committed to working together to address this recovery phase,” Kemp stated to conclude his letter. “We are committed to working through this process with you and our partners. We remain in this fight together.”