President Joe Biden’s administration is giving state and local governments greater flexibility in spending $350 billion in federal COVID-19 aid.
State and local governments will have greater flexibility to spend $350 billion of federal COVID-19 aid under new rules from President Joe Biden’s administration which take effect April 1, 2022. This is music to the city of Inglewood’s ears as they have been awaiting direction from the government before spending $15.5 million received last July.
The final U.S. Treasury Department rules come nearly 10 months after Biden signed the massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that included aid for state, local and tribal governments. The money was intended to help shore up their finances, pay the ongoing costs of fighting the virus and invest in longer-term projects to strengthen communities.
But some city and county officials had complained that the Treasury’s initial guidelines, issued last May, were too rigid. In addition to pressing the Treasury for changes, local government groups also had been lobbying Congress to intervene with relaxed criteria.
One of the most significant changes will let state and local governments claim up to $10 million of revenue losses during the pandemic without having to prove it. Federal money used to replace lost revenue comes with maximum flexibility, meaning it can go toward projects such as road repairs that would not otherwise be eligible. That $10 million threshold covers the entire allotment for many smaller cities and for about 70% of counties.
“It really allows for counties to be able to use the funding in ways in which they know can best support their communities and residents,” Eryn Hurley, deputy director of government affairs for the National Association of Counties, said Friday.
Local officials also had pushed for greater flexibility on infrastructure spending, which is generally limited to water, sewer and broadband internet.
The final rules allow money to be used for culvert repairs along roads and to rehabilitate dams and reservoirs that supply drinking water. The ruling doesn’t mention using the money on the transit connector Mayor Butts.
Inglewood will get the second $15.8 million payment in July 2022.
Associated Press contributed to this article