Published on Jul 28, 2020

Six takeaways from the CARES Act update from Commerce and the Auditor’s Office

Contact: Candice Bock

On July 27, AWC hosted a webinar with representatives from the Department of Commerce, the State Auditor’s Office (SAO), and three local mayors. Mayors Belleci, Wheeler, and Wick shared how their cities are using CARES Act funds to support their community, while Commerce and the SAO provided guidance and tips on how to properly use and track the use of CARES Act funds.

Below are six quick takeaways from the presentation:

  1. Common expenses for cities: The three mayors shared some common ideas for ways to use CARES funds including:
    • IT equipment and upgrades for telework and remote meetings
    • PPE for city staff
    • Payroll for staff directly involved in response
    • Sanitizing and cleaning supplies
    • Modifications to improve safety like plexiglass barriers
    • Masks for residents in need
    • Small business assistance
    • Rental and housing assistance
    • Food assistance
  2. Support local businesses: Mayor Caroline Belleci of University Place shared that their city council approved a plan to provide emergency funding for local businesses of a certain size that were impacted by the pandemic. This funding will help small businesses weather the storm and remain open despite the economic downturn.
  3. Don’t forget your school district: Mayor Greg Wheeler of Bremerton explained that their city council chose to use CARES funds to support their local school district by purchasing mobile hotspots and other equipment to help with virtual learning. With many school districts choosing to use virtual classrooms, this funding will benefit many children in the community.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Mayor Ben Wick of Spokane Valley reminded attendees that some social programs may already be run by local nonprofits. Instead of creating a whole new program, look to partner with local service providers to ensure that your city’s CARES funds have the greatest possible impact.
  5. Document, document, document: Kelly Collins, Director of Local Audit at the SAO, advised cities that documentation shows compliance. Collins urged city staff to treat CARES funds like any other federal funding they might receive by implementing proper internal controls and maintaining adequate documentation.
  6. Have questions? Contact Commerce: Tony Hanson, Deputy Assistant Director at the Department of Commerce, reminded city leaders that they can always reach out to Commerce if they have questions about the proper use of CARES funds. Responses may take a few days; however, guidance from Commerce can ensure that your city won’t be penalized later for misusing funds. If you haven’t yet signed a contract for funds, do so ASAP so you don’t miss out on being able to use these funds.

If you were unable to attend the webinar, we encourage you to check out our resource page which includes a recording of the webinar, the webinar slides, and links to state and federal resources.

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