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Floyd County applies for almost $200,000 from state COVID-19 reimbursement fund

By Bob Steenson,

Floyd County is applying for almost $200,000 in reimbursements for expenses related to COVID-19, after rescinding a resolution passed last week that would have claimed a small fraction of that amount.

The funds are from the Iowa COVID-19 Government Relief Fund, a $100 million fund for cities and counties that is part of the state’s $1.25 billion share of the federal CARES Act.

Last week the county Board of Supervisors had passed a resolution claiming reimbursement for a little over $21,000 in expenses for the period from March 1 through July 31, including some payroll costs, personal protective equipment and equipment used to conduct public meetings electronically.

The county was aware that it had the potential for $198,309.39 in reimbursements from the state fund, based on the population of the county, but County Auditor Gloria Carr said the instructions for claiming the money were unclear.

For example, she said, the program allowed reimbursement for up to 25% of personnel costs for five months for employees whose jobs had changed to deal with the coronavirus, but the instructions appeared to say that only applied to employees who were working directly on COVID-19 issues.

A webinar on the program held last week cleared up a lot of questions, Carr said, including that employees in the public health and public safety departments did not have to be directly involved in COVID-19 for parts of their salaries to qualify for reimbursement.

“They confirmed … that you can use all of your public health employees, all of your sheriff’s employees for the 25%. That part is just kind of an automatic deal,” she said.

The Floyd County Department of Public Health annual payroll budget is $848,391, Carr said, so 25% of that for five months is more than $88,000.

On the public safety side, the budget for the Sheriff’s Office and public dispatch are more than $2 million annually, so 25% of that for five months is more than $212,000.

Those salaries more than cover the total $193,309 available to the county through the state reimbursement program, so the county passed a resolution to apply for the entire amount, after first rescinding the resolution passed last week for the $21,000.

“And then we can still apply at any time for all those PPEs and stuff for the FEMA public assistance grant,” Carr said.

The meeting Monday morning started almost half an hour late because of problems getting a computer program to work that allows people to attend the meeting electronically.

Carr suggested that the board look at using some of the $198,000 to improve the technology used for public meeting access.

Also at the meeting, the board agreed to not participate in a presidential directive that would have allowed employers to defer the withholding of employees’ part of Social Security taxes from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.

Carr, whose department is in charge of the county payroll, recommended the action, saying the employees that had a part of their taxes deferred now could be required to repay that amount beginning Jan. 1.