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York County officials crafting plan for divvying up CARES funding

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler listens as John Porter, executive vice president and COO of WellSpan Health, speaks during a press conference at the commissioner's chambers Monday, March 16, 2020. Wheeler declared a state of emergency in the county due to the Coronavirus. Bill Kalina photo

York County officials said Monday that they have received little guidance from state and federal agencies about how they are allowed to spend $40.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

These funds, supplied through the federal CARES Act, were provided to the county, which is responsible for divvying it among municipalities and businesses that are suffering financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

York County commissioners on Monday, however, said no decision has been made yet about how the funds will be allocated.

"It's just been kind of a whirlwind process," county administrator Mark Derr said. "We've had very little guidance on who the money can be given to and who it can be spent on."

York County was first notified of the $40.5 million allocation in early June and was only given five days to submit an application to the state Department of Community and Economic Development explaining how it would use its funding in order to receive it, Derr said.

Initially, York County did not receive federal funding as it did not meet the residency requirement of having a population of more than a half million people, county President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said.

More:York County's CARE cash debate will be in public view, officials say

Later, the federal government supplied the state with $3.8 billion that could be allocated to counties below the 500,000 resident threshold, Wheeler added.

York County is expected to receive the federal funding by July 15, after which county officials can then open an application process for local municipalities, organizations and businesses seeking financial support. 

Derr said while county commissioners are already discussing ways to use the funding, on its application to the state they mentioned the potential for funding to go to areas including reimbursements to local governments and toward grant programs.

While all 72 municipalities can apply to receive funding, the money cannot be used as a replacement for lost revenue, said Commissioner Doug Hoke.

"It's for COVID-related expenses for things that happened in your organization that cost you money based on the pandemic," Hoke said. 

These COVID-19 expenses could include anything from the cost of plexiglass shields to covering the rent businesses were required to pay while closed, Derr said.

York County has until Dec. 31 to spend the allocated amount, or else the unused money will go back to the federal government, he added. 

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.