City, council officials say they are adding up COVID-19 costs that could qualify for reimbursement

KELOLAND.com Original

Novel coronavirus illustration (Credit: CDC)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The numbers aren’t available yet but Minnehaha County and the city of Sioux Falls are adding them in anticipation of applying for federal COVID-19 relief money through the state of South Dakota.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced this morning that $200 million of the state’s $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act money will be available to eligible COVID-19 expenses in cities and counties. Expenses must qualify under state and U.S. Department of Treasury guidelines.

Minnehaha County could get up to $13 million.

Jean Bender, chairwoman of the county commission, said the county had increased sanitation expenses throughout the county campus and at the jail, personal protection equipment expenses for public safety personnel, conversion of a couple of vehicles to safely transport COVID positive individuals, and similar expenses.

During the news conference, sheriff Mike Milstead said another expense was COVID-19 costs related to placing inmates in quarantine who had COVID-19 or possibly had COVID-19 in the jail to protect inmates and staff.

The city of Sioux Falls could receive up to $41.5 million.

“We do not have a tally since we just received the State of South Dakota’s guidance for what costs would be eligible,” said Shawn Pritchett, the city’s finance director.

Pritchett said city officials continue to determine expenses that may be eligible for reimbursement.

“Based on the guidance provided the State of South Dakota, eligible expenses may include the acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE), costs related to isolating COVID positive or suspected positive individuals (i.e. the Isolation Center – although we have received some other grant funding to assist with this expense), and personnel expenses that were substantially designated to COVID response,” Pritchett said.

Noem said again Monday that while the $1.25 billion will be of great help, she would like more flexibility on how to spend the money, such as to help recover any loss in sales tax revenue. The U.S. Treasury or legislation passed in Washington, D.C. would need to make those changes.

For now, the city of Sioux Falls, is working on known potential reimbursable expenses, Pritchett said.

“(The city) will work to maximize the reimbursement for which we may be qualified to request,” Pritchett said.

The $1.25 billion does not include specific federal money for Tribal Lands or for K-12 or higher education. Each of those entities received a specific pool of CARES Act money. K-12 education would receive about $41 million, higher education about $19 million and Tribal governments will also receive COVID-19 relief money. Rosebud, for example is getting $58 million.

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