OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 11, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt’s CARES FORWARD team announced today that reimbursement requests for CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) from cities and counties have quadrupled in the past month and the number of local governments that have begun the process to file for reimbursements has doubled.
This new peak comes a month after Governor Stitt announced the State’s new CRF allocation model, dedicating $250 million to cities and counties to receive reimbursement for COVID-19 eligible expenses. To date, more than 400 cities and counties have begun the process to file for CRF reimbursements, with more than $83 million in CRF already reimbursed back to local governments and another $50 million in the process of being paid or under review.
“We strategically reserved $250 million in CRF to ensure Oklahoma cities and counties have the resources needed to respond and recover from the presence of COVID-19,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “After creating more flexibility in the State’s management of CRF, we have seen a strong positive response from local governments in filing for these critical funds and we have worked tirelessly to get the resources deployed as quickly as possible.”
While the $250 million in CRF is available through Nov. 1, all cities and counties must complete a risk assessment form with the State by Sept. 15 in order to qualify for the funds. Cities and counties who have questions about this process should contact the State directly by e-mailing CRFhelp@omes.ok.gov.
“We want these critical federal dollars on the front lines of local governments as quickly as possible, but we are also going to be thorough and diligent in ensuring every dollar we deploy matches the intent of Congress and the U.S. Treasury’s guidelines,” said Secretary of Budget Mike Mazzei. “As a result, we need cities and counties who intend to file for CRF reimbursements to be fully engaged with the State no later than Sept. 15 in order to qualify for CRF the rest of this year. The Governor’s CARES FORWARD team stands ready to help all local governments complete necessary paperwork in order to achieve this soon-approaching deadline.”
In August, CARES FORWARD also launched a one-stop-shop website for CARES Act CRF: http://Caresact.ok.gov. Local governments can visit this website to log into their online reimbursement portal, and Oklahoma citizens can also visit this same site to learn about special CRF grants or navigate the transparency tool to see how the $1.26 billion in CRF is being deployed as reimbursements to State agencies or into specialized community projects related to COVID-19.
The CARES Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in late March. The CARES Act established the CRF federal stimulus fund, which delivered $1.26 billion to the State of Oklahoma and represents less than one-third of total CARES Act federal funding directly allocated to various Oklahoma government entities in 2020.
Governor Kevin Stitt established CARES FORWARD in May, assembling a team of public employees with an expertise in finance, federal grants, and auditing and led by State Chief Operating Officer John Budd and Secretary of Budget Mike Mazzei, to oversee and manage the deployment of $1.26 billion in CRF.