On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, referred to as the (“CARES”) Act, to assist the country in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Section 5001 of the CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to provide state and local governments with $150 billion to offset certain costs associated with fighting the pandemic.
On April 22, 2020, Johnson County received $116,311,033.60 from the U.S. Department of Treasury as part of the CRF. Johnson and Sedgewick counties were the only in the state of Kansas to receive direct funding, based on their populations of more than 500,000.
CRF were only allowed to be used to cover costs that were:
On July 9, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) adopted Resolution No. 041-20, authorizing the acceptance of Johnson County’s share of CRF from the state of Kansas’ Impact Fund. In addition to the amount of the direct aid for counties with populations under 500,000, the State Recovery Office also established an Impact Fund of $50 million to distribute to the hardest hit counties experiencing high COVID-19 cases and/or high unemployment rates. Johnson County was eligible for $7,977,835 of State Impact Funds (SIF).
Allocations during this phase addressed the needs of local taxing jurisdictions with expenses such as personal protective equipment (PPE), modifications to facilities to accommodate the need to social distance and other protective measures, additional cleaning and disinfection of facilities and equipment, as well as payroll costs for public health and safety employees whose services were substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A committee of city and county representatives was comprised for planning purposes of Phase 1. The committee included city administrators/managers from the cities of Olathe, Shawnee and Roeland Park as well as Johnson County Government’s finance director and assistant finance director, deputy director of Emergency Management, and the deputy county manager.
Consistent with the BOCC’s previously identified priorities, community survey responses, and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, five funding priorities were addressed in Phase 2. Those priorities were:
The county hired the University of Kansas to provide strategic support in development of the Phase 2 programs. “Strike Teams” comprised of key community stakeholders were engaged in a rapid response approach to define problems and develop innovative programmatic solutions that focused on the Phase 2 priorities identified by the board.
In September 2020, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approved $35,324,000 to fund 14 proposals recommended by a Community Reinvestment Committee, representing a group of nearly 80 Johnson County stakeholders who put together the plan. The application processes to apply for these funding programs will open up over the coming weeks.
Details on the funded proposals and the process the committee followed are available here.
The county hired the Disaster Recovery Consulting Firm, Witt O’Brien’s, to provide expertise and oversight to guarantee compliance of all laws and regulations regarding expenditures using federal funds. Additional costs incurred as part of the County’s Single Audit will be paid from Phase 3.
The following chart shows the breakdown of the $116 million of CRF funds by Entity Type through December 31, 2020. This is for all three phases of the plan. The three largest entities make up approximately 85% of the total funding and include:
The following chart shows the breakdown of the $116 million of CRF funds by Federal Expense Category through December 31, 2020. This is for all three phases of the plan. The three largest expense categories make up approximately 72% of the total funding and include:
The following chart shows the breakdown of Phase 2 CRF funding, awarded and spent, by strategic priority area. The county awarded $35,324,000 in Phase 2 CRF funding for community reinvestment programs.
The top three programs make up approximately 61% and include:
The hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic are many. But Johnson County was able to respond to the pandemic in a variety of ways in our community. Listed below are several highlights of the accomplishments achieved utilizing the CRF funds.
We heard from the community about the positive impact this funding made in the lives of Johnson County constituents.
Provided approximately 8,500 bags of food to elderly and vulnerable populations.
Improved mental health by combating social isolation through engaging in educational virtual programs.
Provided 1,350 small business grants and 45 artist relief grants.
In closing, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. However, this first round of financial support has made a positive difference in the lives of Johnson County’s constituents and will continue to do so, as the County shifts focus towards vaccination efforts in the coming months.