Gov. Lee announces additional $115 million grant for COVID-19 response

Tennessee

FILE – In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee answers questions concerning the state’s response to the coronavirus during a news conference in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee abortion providers are asking a federal judge to order that abortions can go forward despite an executive order from Gov. Lee aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Their lawyers argue in a motion filed on Monday, April 13, 2020, that Lee’s order blocking “nonemergency healthcare procedures” should not apply to abortions. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Gov. Bill Lee and the state’s bipartisan Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced on Monday an additional $115 million in coronavirus relief funds will be made available to local governments to offset costs incurred from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic has required a high level of coordination and support across all levels of government to ensure local needs are met and the health and wellbeing of Tennesseans are protected,” Lee said. “The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group has provided another round of funding as we work to reduce any financial barriers in COVID-19 response.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented our local governments with unique challenges specific to the needs of their people. Giving local governments control over how to spend these dollars maximizes efficiency and ensures this money is deployed in the most effective way possible,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said. “As we adjust to the new normal of living and working with COVID-19, it is important that local governments have the resources they need to attack the virus and address the issues it creates.”

The Tennessee Local Government Reimbursement Program comes in addition to the $210 million in grants for county and municipal governments approved by the General Assembly in the state’s 2021 budget.

Expenses paid for by the reimbursement program should fall within one of the following categories:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Public Health Expenses
  • Payroll Expenses Related to COVID-19
  • Public Health Compliance Expenses
  • Other Reasonably Necessary Expenses Incurred in Response to the COVID-19 public
  • Health emergency.

The funding will be allocated from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to eligible local governments on a per capita basis.

“Directing additional funds to local governments will ensure they can continue to effectively meet the needs of their residents,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “COVID-19 related decisions and expenses whether in health care, education, or in other areas will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

Funds from the CRF may not be used to replace lost government revenue. Funds also may not be used for expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal programs.

These funds will be reserved for local governments that did not receive a direct Coronavirus Relief Fund appropriation. Memphis, Shelby County, and Nashville have already received a combined $284 million that was subtracted from the State of Tennessee’s allocation.

Members of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group include McNally, Sexton, Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Sen. Bo Watson, Rep. Harold Love, Rep. Pat Marsh, Comptroller Justin Wilson, and Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley.

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