Cedar Park - Leander | November 2020

ECONOMY

DISTRIBUTING COVID-19 FUNDS

Williamson County received $93 million in federal coronavirus relief aid. Here is how it has been distributed as of Oct. 26.

Williamson County continues to distribute COVID-19 relief funds

Unallotted: $17 million

Small business grants: $35 million

BY ALI LINAN

to emergency service districts, to which $500,000 is allocated; $1 million for community rent and utility assistance, to which $4 million is allocated; and a pending $1.5 million to schools, to which $12 million is allocated, he added. Heselmeyer said he believes an extension is pending, but as of Oct. 30, any unspent money by the current Dec. 30 deadline will need to be returned to the federal government. “We want to do everything we can to help our citizens, our constituents, with these COVID-related expenses,” Heselmeyer said. “[We want to] make sure that their cities are taken care of, make sure that their schools are taken care of ... and utilize this money to the maximum extent.” While there are some parameters for how the money can be distributed, counties and cities are autonomous in deciding howmuch, when, how and to whom the money goes. Travis County received $61 million in CARES Act funding, which it allocated toward small-cities relief for entities located outside of Austin and toward rental and mortgage assistance for low-income residents. Harris County, with $426.6 million in funds, started court eviction and child care assistance programs, among other efforts. “It may be federal government tax- payer dollars, but that’s still taxpayer dollars,” Heselmeyer said. “We are still placing the same priorities on being responsible–we spend that money as we would if it was property tax money collected locally.”

Williamson County has continued to move forward with the distribution of its federal coronavirus relief aid funding and has added schools to its list of programs. In April, the county received $93 million in federal aid to support those financially impacted by the pandemic. Since then, it has distributed money to small businesses, cities, emergency service districts and nonprofits. Now, the county is set to help offset the pandemic costs for area public, private and charter schools. “I dare to say that any county in America has accomplished what we’ve accomplished in the last six months,” Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said during an October meeting. “We have done an amazing job through a global pandemic to help our county not only stand up but to run forward.” The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was a $2 trillion stimulus bill passed in March with the intent of financially helping people and entities devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Williamson County was an early adopter of ramping up distribution points, starting with small businesses in May. The program, which funneled money to local businesses with fewer than 100 full-time employees, was allotted the largest portion of the total, at $35 million, Williamson County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer said. The county has also distributed about $500,000 to cities, to which $8 million is currently allocated; $85,000

School reimbursements: $12 million

$93MILLION TOTAL

County internal expenses: $11.55 million

Bluebonnet Trails: $500,000

Cities: $8 million

Emergency service districts: $500,000

Reserve: $3 million

Community assistance program: $4 million

YMCA: $750,000

Health district: $1 million

SOURCE: WILLIAMSON COUNTY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

COUNTY TO COUNTY Here is how other counties have distributed coronavirus relief funding. Program listings are not comprehensive.

Travis County Amount awarded: $61 million Programs: small-cities relief for those located outside of Austin, rental and mortgage assistance program for low- income residents Williamson County Amount awarded: $93 million Programs: small-business assistance, cities and emergency service district assistance, school district assistance City of Austin Amount awarded: $170.8 million Programs: Commercial Loans for Economic Assistance and Recovery Fund, Childcare Support Fund, Austin Nonprofit and Civic Health Organizations Relief Funds

Collin County Amount awarded: $171 million Programs: small-business grant program, family and individual assistance, COVID-19 testing for the uninsured Dallas County Amount awarded: $240 million Programs: emergency business assistance, emergency child care assistance, emergency housing, food pantry assistance Harris County Amount awarded: $426.6 million Programs: small-business loan program, court eviction services, rental assistance program, child care assistance program Hays County Amount awarded: $4.83 million Programs: Small business assistance program

SOURCES: CITY OF AUSTIN, COLLIN COUNTY, DALLAS COUNTY, HARRIS COUNTY, HAYS COUNTY, TRAVIS COUNTY, WILLIAMSON COUNTY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CEDAR PARK - LEANDER EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

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