The City and Borough of Juneau is expecting $53 million in federal relief, but what it can be used on is still not entirely clear. The Assembly Finance Committee is meeting to discuss the funds Wednesday evening. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)

The City and Borough of Juneau is expecting $53 million in federal relief, but what it can be used on is still not entirely clear. The Assembly Finance Committee is meeting to discuss the funds Wednesday evening. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)

CARES Act money is coming, but use is still unclear

Exactly how the money can be used may change

Federal relief funds from the CARES Act are on their way.

The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee on Monday approved Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposal for distributing the coronavirus relief money.

But how that mostly federal money will be able to be used is still an open question. Additional guidance on how to spend the funds has been issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt said, but there were still ambiguities within that guidance.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee will discuss eligible use of the funds at its Wednesday meeting, Watt said, and he had already prepared a memo to detail some of the issues with the federal guidance.

“The Guidance says that funding can be used to meet payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Watt wrote in the memo. “How does a government determine whether payroll expenses for a given employee satisfy the ‘substantially dedicated’ condition?”

[Legislative committee agrees to plans for coronavirus aid]

Before money can be received, municipalities have to sign and return a compliance letter to the governor’s office, according to Jeff Turner, deputy director of communications for Dunleavy.

“Compliance letters are still being drafted by the Department of Law and not all the details have been finalized,” said Glenn Hoskinson, special assistant to the commissioner at the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, who answered a question on behalf of the governor’s office.

City leaders across the state have said that without the ability to use federal funds to make up for lost revenue there would have to be massive cuts to services. However, Senators in Washington, D.C., including both of Alaska’s Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, have introduced legislation which would expand the use of CARES Act funding to include lost revenue.

“We believe this legislation is fairly likely to pass, which would significantly broaden the scope eligible uses,” Watt wrote in the memo. “However, uncertainty rules the day.”

Hoskinson said once the letters are drafted they could be signed and returned electronically, but a date for the letters’ release has not been set.

There are some areas where the use of federal funds is clearly permitted, Watt said, such as rental assistance, small business loan programs and payroll for essential city personnel such as police officers and fire fighters.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 8

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bill Thomas, a former Republican state representative from Haines, announced Friday he is dropping out of the race for the District 3 House seat this fall. (U.S. Sustainability Alliance photo)
Bill Thomas drops out of District 3 House race, says there isn’t time for fishing and campaigning

Haines Republican cites rough start to commercial season; incumbent Andi Story now unopposed.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks at the Alaska Democratic Party’s state convention on May 18 at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Peltola among few Democrats to vote for annual defense bill loaded with GOP ‘culture war’ amendments

Alaska congresswoman expresses confidence “poison pills” will be removed from final legislation.

A celebratory sign stands outside Goldbelt Inc.’s new building during the Alaska Native Regional Corporation’s 50th-anniversary celebration on Jan. 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Medical company sues Goldbelt for at least $30M in contract dispute involving COVID-19 vaccine needles

Company says it was stuck with massive stock of useless needles due to improper specs from Goldbelt.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A yearling black bear waits for its mother to return. Most likely she won’t. This time of year juvenile bears are separated, sometimes forcibly, by their mothers as families break up during mating season. (Photo courtesy K. McGuire)
Bearing witness: Young bears get the boot from mom

With mating season for adults underway, juveniles seek out easy food sources in neighborhoods.

A chart shows COVID-19 pathogen levels at the Mendenhall wastewater treatment plant during the past three months. (Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Wastewater Surveillance System)
Juneau seeing another increase in COVID-19 cases, but a scarcity of self-test kits

SEARHC, Juneau Drug have limited kits; other locations expect more by Saturday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Feb. 7. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy picks second ex-talk radio host for lucrative fish job after first rejected

Rick Green will serve at least through Legislature’s next confirmation votes in the spring of 2025.

A used gondola being installed at Eaglecrest Ski Area may not begin operating until 2027, according to Goldbelt Inc. President and CEO McHugh Pierre, whose company is providing $10 million for installation costs. (Eaglecrest Ski Area photo)
Eaglecrest Ski Area gondola may not open until 2027 due to CBJ delays, Goldbelt CEO says

Agreement with city allows Goldbelt to nix $10M deal if gondola doesn’t open by May 31, 2028.

Most Read