The Board of Douglas County Commissioners approved a plan to distribute $24.9 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act during a special meeting on August 14.
The funding needed to meet eligibility requirements developed by the U.S. Treasury and the State of Kansas. There were two categories for the funding:
- Reimbursement. The county can collect invoices and receipts for COVID-related expenses between March 1 and July 31.
- Direct Aid Plan. The county can develop plans for how to use funds for direct aid. The money must be spent by December 31, 2020.
The county’s plan will fund the following:
- $1.94 million for reimbursements
- $3.06 million in direct aid for municipalities
- $3.44 million in direct aid for economic recovery
- $10.35 million in direct aid for health and medical services
- $2.5 million in direct aid for housing and human services
- $3.6 million in direct aid for education
The plan includes funding for 155 programs ranging from coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment to small business grants and Lawrence Community Shelter improvements.
The county submitted the plan to the State of Kansas on August 17. The deadline for state approval is Sept. 15.
“This has been a monumental task for our staff. When I talk to other counties, they are in awe of the amount of outreach and work being done here,” County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said. “I’m incredibly grateful to our team that has worked so hard to pull this together and it’s not just the Douglas County staff, but the entire recovery team.”
The COVID-19 Recovery Coordination Team's leadership includes: KU Chancellor Doug Girard, LMH Health CEO Russ Johnson, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director Dan Partridge, Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Lewis, City of Lawrence Manager Craig Owens, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce President Bonnie Lowe and local health officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino. The team also includes lead coordinators in the areas of: economic recovery, health and medical services, housing and human services and education.
“These leaders didn’t sign up for this work. They have done a ton of extra work engaging a ton of people in our community. I am hopeful that it really continues to strengthen our bonds of collaboration. It has been an enormous undertaking and we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m really proud of the work in our community.”
More about the state funding
The State of Kansas received $1.034 billion from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. Of that money, the state allocated $400 million in July to Kansas counties based on their population to improve health and economic outcomes. Douglas County received $24.9 million.
In mid-July, Douglas County Administration and Emergency Management employees began working closely with partner agencies in the COVID-19 Recovery Coordination Team to identify eligible expenditures for these funds. More than 50 community agencies were involved in the process and every applicant filled out a racial equity impact analysis tool. The COVID-19 Recovery Coordination Team reviewed a plan on Aug. 4 that was presented to the county commission on Aug. 5. Commissioners then made revisions during public meetings on August 12 and August 14.
The State of Kansas is offering a second round of $314 million in COVID relief funding for public health, education, economic development and connectivity proposals. The funding will be distributed through the State of Kansas. Of this funding, $130 million is available for economic development and connectivity grant programs. For more information or to apply: kansascommerce.gov/covidrelief.