Bills and Rates

Treasury Department issues additional guidance on coronavirus relief funds

The U.S. Department of Treasury last week released further guidance on the use of coronavirus relief funds (CRF) to states, counties, and localities authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Within the new guidance, Treasury has clarified that CRF may be used to meet the non-federal matching requirements for Stafford Act assistance, assuming those expenses would otherwise qualify for use as CRF funds.

Conversely, Treasury notes that qualification of an expenditure for purposes of CRF does not mean it will necessarily qualify for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Regardless of the use of fund payments for such purposes, FEMA funding is still dependent on FEMA’s determination of eligibility under the Stafford Act,” the Treasury Department said.

Additionally, the guidance notes that CRF funds can be provided to a non-profit for distribution to individuals as part of a financial assistance program.

The question is relevant to public power utilities that want their state, county, or city use CRF for a utility assistance program.

Some jurisdictions are issuing debit cards to qualifying customers, others are relying on community action agencies that already are tasked with distributing Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs (LIHEAP).

Funding for LIHEAP remains front and center for the American Public Power Association in terms of legislative priorities, noted John Godfrey, Senior Government Relations Director, at APPA’s Public Power Connect Virtual Summit and Business Meeting in June.

In late March, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure will provide $2 trillion in financial assistance in response to the pandemic. Among other things, the CARES Act provides $900 million for LIHEAP, which comes in addition to the $3.74 billion already appropriated for the account for fiscal year 2020.