Howard County and the city of Kokomo will collectively receive tens of millions of dollars thanks to the recent COVID-19 relief bill, according to estimates provided by the U.S. Senate Democrats.

Estimates provided by the U.S. Senate Democrats say Kokomo will receive $20.63 million, while county government is set to receive $16.03 million. Both are significant increases compared to two previous COVID relief bills.

The state of Indiana as a whole is expected to receive roughly $5.8 billion — about $3 billion would go directly to state government, $2.6 billion to cities and counties and $200 million for a state capital projects fund.

When reached by the Tribune this week, both county Auditor Jessica Secrease and City Controller Wes Reed said they, too, only have access to estimates at this point in time and that it’s too early to say how either government will spend their allotment.

Whatever the final amounts end up being, local and state governments can expect the money to be sent by the U.S. Treasury within the next two months.

The bill, called the American Rescue Plan (ARP), specifies that the U.S. Treasury is to release the funds within 60 days of enactment of the law. For governments labeled in the bill as “nonetitlement communities” — villages and townships — an extra 30 days is given to the U.S. Treasury to dole out the funds.

Notably, not all the money will be sent out at the same time. Under the bill, the U.S. Treasury is allowed to withhold up to 50% of the funds during the first distribution and then release the remainder within 12 months. The money must be spent by Dec. 31, 2024.

So what can the governments use the money for? Here is the language, according to the ARP, on how the money may be spent:

  • “(A) to respond to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (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;
  • (B) to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID–19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers of the metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work;
  • (C) for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue of such metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county due to the COVID–19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year of the metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county prior to the emergency; or
  • (D) to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
  • (2) PENSION FUNDS. — No metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county may use funds made available under this section for deposit into any pension fund.
  • (3) TRANSFER AUTHORITY. — A metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county receiving a payment from funds made available under this section may transfer funds to a private nonprofit organization (as that term is defined in paragraph (17) of section 401 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11360(17)), a public benefit corporation involved in the transportation of passengers or cargo, or a special-purpose unit of State or local government.
  • (4) TRANSFERS TO STATES. — Notwithstanding paragraph (1), a metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county receiving a payment from funds made available under this section may transfer such funds to the State in which such entity is located.”

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich

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