OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 6, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the State will be allocating approximately $250 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to Oklahoma cities and counties based on their population. This change allows for city and county governments to access CRF dollars more quickly and with maximum efficiency.
“For the past two months, the State has closely followed guidance from the federal government in how to distribute critical Coronavirus Relief Funds to state agencies, cities and counties. After working with and observing the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on local governments, I directed our team to streamline its reimbursement process and to deliver more flexibility for getting these critical funds out the door,” said Gov. Stitt. “The new CRF allocation model will ensure city and county governments have equitable access and more foresight as they plan for the remainder 2020.”
The State’s new CRF allocation model designates a portion of the $250 million to each city and county based on a formula of $77 per capita. The model calculates city and county populations using the latest 2019 Census estimates, and county populations solely reflect unincorporated areas.
City and county governments have until Nov. 1, 2020 to apply for reimbursement of expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn the maximum amount a city or county is eligible for, please click here.
Under the CARES Act, federal funds were directly awarded to cities and counties with populations above 500,000. Tulsa (401,190) is the largest Oklahoma city or county without a direct allocation and will now receive more than $30 million from the State.
“I am so grateful to Governor Stitt and our partners at the State for ensuring local communities have the resources they need to meet the challenges of this pandemic,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. “Now more than ever, we must be innovative and work together to meet the immediate needs of our residents and to plan for our community’s recovery. I look forward to partnering with the State to ensure these funds are deployed quickly in support of our residents, our schools, and the continued safe reopening of our city.”
“The Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars that Governor Stitt has approved for the City of Durant are indeed a blessing during these trying times. We are grateful for the generosity of our governor,” said Durant Mayor Oden Grube. “The pandemic has left its mark on our city as well as the entire country, and we are excited to use this funding to restore the greatness the virus has taken from us.”
The CARES FORWARD team issued a letter to cities and counties Wednesday providing additional instructions on how to file for CRF reimbursements based on U.S. Treasury guidelines. The letter included instructions on how local governments should register with the State in order to receive the funds and what qualifies as a reimbursable COVID-19 expense. A copy of the letter is available by clicking here.
Gov. Stitt established CARES FORWARD in May, assembling a team of public employees who have an expertise in finance, federal grants, and auditing and are led by the State Chief Operating Officer John Budd and Secretary of Budget Mike Mazzei to oversee the $1.2 billion in stimulus funds. The mission of CARES FORWARD is to maximize all federal dollars available for State agencies and local governments to rebuild and recover during this unprecedented time and to maintain the integrity of Oklahoma’s CRF dollars for COVID-19 related expenses, emergencies, and pandemic preparedness.
Over the past two months, CARES FORWARD has approved $17.4 million in CRF reimbursements to 90 cities and counties across Oklahoma, with tens of millions more pending approval. In all, roughly 86% of the $250 million in CRF funds specifically set aside for local governments remain available for cities and counties to apply for until Nov. 1.
While reimbursements are administered by the State, the federal funds are available due to the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in late March. This federal stimulus delivered $1.2 billion to the State of Oklahoma to support COVID-19 response, to include expansion of testing and tracing, purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and improvement of infrastructure or operations for delivering public services impacted by the presence of the novel virus.