Federal government makes it easier for cities to get coronavirus funds from St. Louis County

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New guidelines from the federal government will make it easier for municipalities to apply for federal coronavirus response funds that were awarded to St. Louis County.

St. Louis County’s Municipal Relief Program, announced earlier this month, was established to distribute up to $47 million of funds from the CARES Act to the 88 municipalities in the county.

In South County, Crestwood and Sunset Hills intend to apply for funds for the coronavirus response. The Crestwood Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a resolution to apply for the funds last week, and the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen has scheduled a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to consider a resolution to apply for the funds. The money would primarily go to the Crestwood police and fire departments and the Sunset Hills Police Department.

Last week, the U.S. Office of Inspector General clarified reporting requirements for what the federal agency calls “prime recipients,” including St. Louis County. This new federal document simplifies the requirements for accounting for and reporting COVID-19 expenses for public safety and public health employees.

If the process outlined by the federal government is not followed, the county as a prime recipient is at risk of having to pay back the funds awarded to the municipalities.

With the new clarification from the Office of Inspector General, St. Louis County will no longer require municipalities to submit documentation to support the presumption that public health and safety payroll is substantially dedicated to mitigating the COVID-19 emergency. Instead, a municipality will only be required to substantiate the amount of reimbursement requested.

Although this approach should provide for an expedited distribution of funds to municipalities, St. Louis County is extending by one week the deadline for municipalities to complete the preliminary request for funds. The deadline is now Oct. 9. Municipalities will still be able to submit documentation to substantiate the amounts requested for reimbursement beginning Oct. 3.

Details about this important change will be included in an updated Municipal Relief Program FAQ from St. Louis County and were discussed during the next regularly scheduled Municipal Relief Program office hours Sept. 29. Additional questions may be submitted to stlouiscountycaresmrp@stlouisco.com.