Will Medina County use part of $1.6 million grant to help small businesses impacted by COVID?

Medina County Commissioners have not yet discussed if they will opt to use part of the grant to help local small businesses, but the option is on the table.

Medina County was awarded a $1.6 million TDEM CARES Act grant that is based on the number of residents in the county, and can be used for a variety of COVID-related assistance. A list of 6 categories is provided as guidance on what the money can be used for. A majority, 75% of the monies, must be used for the first three categories (medical, public health, and public payroll expenses).  Up to 25% can be used for the other three categories, including things like economic support for small businesses.

That twenty-five percent amounts to roughly $400,000 that could theoretically be used to provide relief to local Medina County rural businesses impacted by COVID-19, if local county leaders choose to do so.

The county can issue grants to small businesses that are based in rural Medina County.  Each city is eligible to receive their own grant based on the number of residents in their city. Cities and Counties receive 20% of their total grant allocation up front, and can be reimbursed for the rest as they use funds so long as they remain in compliance.

So far, Medina county has discussed purchasing a scanner for the jail (so pat downs won’t be necessary), as well as more PPE. They also plan to use some of the funds to be reimbursed for some payroll expenses (incurred when staff could not come in to work to prevent spread during the height of the pandemic).  County Judge Chris Schuchart estimated that the scanner and ppe they plan on purchasing would cost around $400K, and the payroll reimbursements would amount to around $200K. That leaves roughly $1million up for discussion on how it can best be used to provide relief in Medina County.

The following information can be found in the “Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance for State, Territorial, Local, and Tribal Governments” published April 22, 2020.

Nonexclusive examples of eligible expenditures:

The following is a list of Eligible expenditures included, but is not limited to, payment for:

  1. Medical expenses such as:
  • COVID-19-related expenses of public hospitals, clinics, and similar facilities.
  • Expenses of establishing temporary public medical facilities and other measures to increase COVID-19 treatment capacity, including related construction costs. • Costs of providing COVID-19 testing, including serological testing. • Emergency medical response expenses, including emergency medical transportation, related to COVID-19. • Expenses for establishing and operating public telemedicine capabilities for COVID-19- related treatment.
  1. Public health expenses such as:
  • Expenses for communication and enforcement by State, territorial, local, and Tribal governments of public health orders related to COVID-19. • Expenses for acquisition and distribution of medical and protective supplies, including sanitizing products and personal protective equipment, for medical personnel, police officers, social workers, child protection services, and child welfare officers, direct service providers for older adults and individuals with disabilities in community settings, and other public health or safety workers in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency. • Expenses for disinfection of public areas and other facilities, e.g., nursing homes, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. • Expenses for technical assistance to local authorities or other entities on mitigation of COVID-19-related threats to public health and safety. • Expenses for public safety measures undertaken in response to COVID-19. • Expenses for quarantining individuals
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  1. Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID19 public health emergency.
  2. Expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures, such as:
  • Expenses for food delivery to residents, including, for example, senior citizens and other vulnerable populations, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions. • Expenses to facilitate distance learning, including technological improvements, in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions. • Expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions. • Expenses of providing paid sick and paid family and medical leave to public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions. • COVID-19-related expenses of maintaining state prisons and county jails, including as relates to sanitation and improvement of social distancing measures, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions. • Expenses for care for homeless populations provided to mitigate COVID-19 effects and enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
  1. Expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency, such as:
  • Expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures. • Expenditures related to a State, territorial, local, or Tribal government payroll support program. • Unemployment insurance costs related to the COVID-19 public health emergency if such costs will not be reimbursed by the federal government pursuant to the CARES Act or otherwise.
  1. Any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.