Kern County supervisors will consider a proposal allocating $20 million in federal funding to various cities throughout the county for novel coronavirus relief during a meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
The funding is made possible through the $157.1 million federal aid Kern County received as part of the U.S. Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
The county has already committed $20 million of the funding to a small business loan program intended to target businesses overlooked by federal efforts. The county also plans to spend a large portion of the funding on its own COVID-19 costs, which were initially estimated to be $63 million.
All in all, the county plans to distribute the $20 million to 11 Kern County cities, splitting up the money based on population. Under the plan Bakersfield and Delano would receive the lion’s share of the funding, with the rest being split up among the remaining nine cities.
Bakersfield could receive around $13 million, and Delano $1.8 million. The rest of Kern County’s cities are all slated to receive less than $1 million each.
While the county initially had proposed limiting the funding only to direct coronavirus costs, after working with cities, Kern officials allowed cities to devote money to payroll expenses provided it follows CARES Act regulations, according to a letter signed by Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop that was included in the meeting’s agenda.
“The standard form of agreement requires cities to be responsible for complying with the CARES Act and all other federal regulations associated with the use of federal grants,” the letter says. “Kern County is the agency that is ultimately responsible for the proper use of grant funds; however, the agreement makes the cities responsible to reimburse Kern County if it is determined that any costs do not comply with the CARES Act.”
In addition to payroll expenses, cities can use the funds to pay for personal protective equipment, telecommuting, sanitizing, public health ordinance enforcement and a category described only as “other” in the agreement.
According to the agreement, cities must submit a reimbursement form to the county at least once every three months, and each cost must be itemized and properly documented.
Supervisors will also consider waiving tent permit fees for businesses hoping to expand the capacity of their buildings by setting up tents outside. As more and more businesses open under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-part reopening plan, the county hopes to allow more customers to use certain businesses by allowing businesses to expand outside using tents.
At Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors could waive the $135 to $215 permit fee to allow businesses to expand their operations without the extra cost.