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Lee looks to stimulus as county bounty is set for $149.45 million

By CJ HADDAD - | Apr 14, 2021

cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com

Southwest Florida municipalities are in store for a monetary influx on the heels of the American Rescue Plan.

The $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11 includes $350 billion in relief to states, localities, tribes and territories, as well as $130 billion to help schools across the country reopen for in-person learning.

Locally, Lee County will receive $149.45 million, though officials on April 7 could not speak to exactly how those funds would be allocated.

“We don’t have the information we need yet for analysis and recommended action,” Lee County spokesperson Betsy Clayton said in an email.

As far as individual cities/townships within the county, the breakdown estimates are as follows:

• Cape Coral: $26.87 million

• Bonita Springs: $25.06 million

• Estero: $14.23 million

• Fort Myers: $16 million

• Fort Myers Beach: $2.98 million

• Sanibel: $3.11 million

In a statement from House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, the relief comes to “allow these governments to distribute vaccines, expand testing, provide lifeline services to struggling families, and save the jobs of essential public servants like teachers, firefighters, and other first responders.” The fiscal year 2021 Budget Resolution Act would give direct relief to states and localities to deal a decisive blow to the pandemic, providing the resources that our families, communities, and economy need to survive.

Clayton provided a list of “overarching allowable uses,” but added “detailed guidance is not yet available.” Funds may be used to:

• Respond to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.

• For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue (i.e. online, property or income tax) due to the public health emergency.

• Make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

• Include premium pay for eligible workers performing essential work (as determined by each state or tribal government) during the pandemic.

Other key provisions:

• States are not allowed to use the funds to either directly or indirectly offset a reduction in the net tax revenue that results from a change in law, regulation or administrative interpretation during the covered period that reduces any tax.

• No funds shall be deposited into any pension fund.

• State and local governments are allowed to transfer to a private nonprofit organization, a public benefit corporation involved in the transportation of passengers or cargo, or a special-purpose unit of state or local government.

Total funding heading to Florida is estimated at $17.623 billion, the fifth largest total – $10.232 billion to the state, $7.027 billion to local government and $364 million to capital projects.