The state’s CARES Act Steering committee has approved an additional list of items that that would be pre-approved for Arkansas’ cities and counties to use CARES funding for.
This approval comes after a meeting earlier in the month that authorized $150 million to be split evenly among the Arkansas Municipal League and the Association of Arkansas Counties.
During the meeting Wednesday evening, Paul Louthian, State Comptroller and Deputy Director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, spoke on the list of items that will now be pre-approved.
"The whole concept here is designed to make it as easy as possible for the cities and the counties to bring up one of these projects, click on it and it will be pre-filled out with a lot of information for them that they can look at, review, if they need to make a change, make a change, to make it more specific for them," Louthian said.
Items on the list of pre-approved projects include funding for labor and supplies for food banks, personal protective equipment purchases for public employees and facilities not already covered by other funding sources, and labor for COVID-19 responders.
Louthian also stated that any proposal costing more than $50,000 will still go through to the CARES Steering Committee for approval, even if the proposal meets that criteria. However, one caveat to that rule is reimbursement for city jailers, EMTs and other first responders.
"There’s a series of questions that y’all were given and it basically says if you say that that’s what they were doing and that’s inside the public health and safety arena, then the presumption is that they were doing that and we’re going to allow those expenses. You simply have to back it up with duty rosters, payroll records showing that person was paid for how much, and that will be the extent of the documentation that’s necessary," Louthian said.
The committee unanimously passed both sets of pre-approved items to receive state CARES funding.
The committee also listened to two other proposals, one concerning housing stabilization and rent assistance, and another on hunger relief. Neither were up for a vote during this meeting.