LOC News

Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Distribution to Local Governments, More Work is Needed

Today Oregon’s Joint Emergency Board (E-Board) is expected to approve staff recommendations that will allow the Oregon Department of Administrative Services to reimburse costs to cities and counties for their response to COVID-19.  While additional work is still needed, Governor Brown has committed $400 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), which will be split into two buckets. 

In the first bucket, $200 million will be used for reimbursement of costs directly associated with the public health aspects of the pandemic response and reflected in Sections 1-4 of the guidance from the U.S. Treasury. This reimbursement will be for the first phase of expenses incurred from March 1 to May 15, 2020. The LOC is very concerned about the reimbursement not being applied to the full range of eligible expenses, particularly the exclusion of costs associated with economic and financial support of communities. The LOC has raised these objections with Governor Brown and the E-Board and is hopeful that going forward Oregon’s plan will be expanded to include all reimbursable costs allowed under the CARES Act and the U.S. Treasury’s guidance.

In the second bucket of $200 million, the state’s plan is to engage in a collaborative process with the LOC and the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) to develop a distribution model that provides equity across the state.  This process will determine the delivery system and how smaller cities can access the funds up front instead of asking for a reimbursement for costs.  The LOC recognizes that only a few cities have resources to front the costs and that any framework will need to find a better pathway forward.

There are other elements of the state’s CRF sharing plan that raise significant concerns.  There is the expectation that Washington and Multnomah counties, along with the city of Portland, will redistribute the funds they received directly from the CRF.  The LOC has opposed this recommendation, but we understand Washington County has committed to distribute funding to cities within its borders, albeit with no details on what equity metric is being applied. Part of the pressure being applied under this proposal is that the state will not include 23 cities in Washington and Multnomah for a state CRF reimbursement, and instead will place the responsibility for that reimbursement squarely on the three entities which received direct CRF payments.

The LOC appreciates all the outreach from member cities to the governor’s office and their respective legislators.  This effort will continue to evolve, and the League will be providing regular updates on the developments and any additional need for grassroots support from members.

Contact: Jim McCauley, Legislative Director - jmccauley@orcities.org

Last Updated 5-15-20

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