By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Legislators got an overview Tuesday of what is left in the CARES Act fund to help provide federal relief to the state from COVID-19.
It appears there is about $38 million that can likely be used before the deadline to spend it on Dec. 30 and about $63 million in funds that have been re-allocated but not yet tapped, but could be.
Taylor Caswell, director of the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief, and Recovery (GOFERR) said the goal is to send “0 dollars” back to Washington.
At a virtual meeting of the Legislative Advisory Board for GOFERR Tuesday, Caswell explained that when the pandemic hit in March, the federal government sent the state $1.25 billion to help provide relief.
“Over the course of the last several months GOFERR has worked with this advisory board, other partners and stakeholders and Governor Sununu to identify need, develop programs to target COVID-related financial distress and to deploy resources quickly and efficiently,” Caswell said.
Before writing checks, GOFERR had to develop protocols to distribute the funds within the federal guidelines and the deadline to use it or lose it is now approaching within 60 days.
The money was divided up by creating about 50 separate programs to help businesses, non-profits, schools, hospitals, and others impacted by closures and health concerns related to the pandemic. Some of them have funds remaining that have been re-allocated to other needs while others have balances.
There is currently $1 million in funds not allocated.
“But that is not the full story,” Caswell said, noting he is confident that at least $38 million remains to be spent.
Certain fund balances have been re-allocated including $36 million to expand broadband internet in rural areas; a business GAP fund with $9 million; the first Main Street relief fund $15 million and $3 million for agriculture relief.
Caswell said GOFERR is more confident that there will be at least $37 million left so long as the deadline for using these funds remains Dec. 30, plus the $1 million in unallocated funds for $38 million.
Those include reserves to the New Hampshire Food Bank Fund of $2.5 million, the New Hampshire Housing Relief Assistance Fund of $15 million, the Main Street Relief 2.0 fund $1.5 million, and the non-profit emergency relief fund of $18 million.
Other funds may have balances, he said, but he is not confident of those remaining resources to include on a list until certain dates, which he outlined.
Those include the municipal and county government relief fund, which the state expects to have that estimate on Nov. 15.
Also, on Dec. 1, the state expects to know what is left in the first responder stipend program, the COVID-19 long-term care stabilization program, the community college system tuition assistance fund, and the safe scholar’s program on Dec. 15
The deadline to apply for the second round of Main Street relief, totaling $100 million is this Friday and it will take a bit of time to see how much that allocation will total but Caswell said he expects that some resources will likely remain.
The advisory board will meet to discuss possible recommendations for the allocation of remaining funds on Nov. 17 at 1 p.m.
For a full listing of all the programs and their allocations visit https://www.goferr.nh.gov/covid-expenditures/authorized-cares-act-expenditures
By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org