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State creates program to reimburse town, cities for expenses related to COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — On Thursday, state leaders announced the creation of the Connecticut Municipal Coronavirus Relief Fund Program, which will help municipal governments receive state reimbursements.

It will use the federally supported Coronavirus Relief Fund to offset their expenses related to the pandemic.

In April, the Lamont administration asked all 169 municipalities to provide the state with information on their actual and projected expenses related to fighting public health crises between March 1 and June 30.

To date, municipalities have reported nearly $40 million in direct costs during this period, officials report.

“Federal rules prevent states from using the CARES Act funding to backfill lost government revenue and require the money to only be used for direct expenses related to the pandemic,” leaders said in a news release.

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To fund this program, the administration is setting aside $75 million and will re-evaluate this allocation for reimbursements beyond June 30.

“We are certainly sympathetic to the needs of the municipalities during this unprecedented public health emergency and remain willing to assist them in offsetting their related expenses,” said Governor Lamont. “This first round of reimbursements to our towns and cities is only the beginning. This ongoing situation is dynamic, and we must adjust to the changing landscape in real-time. Let there be no doubt, we are reimbursing municipalities for their full cost of their expenses to date, and we stand with them amid the continued efforts to protect our communities from this virus.”

“I can speak from experience as the former chief financial officer of Hartford that we understand how thinly municipal budgets are stretched in this environment,” said Melissa McCaw, Secretary of the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the state agency that will administer the program. “This is only a first step in addressing the municipalities’ direct costs related to the COVID-19 crisis through June 30. The towns and cities across this great state critically require this support through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and will also be able to avail themselves to other federal and state programs to help with their expenses and hopefully we will soon see federal action that will allow us to backfill lost revenue at the state and local level as that is critically important but remains unaddressed by the four federal COVID relief bills to date.”

An information website for municipalities can be found here.

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