Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Department of Finance and Administration last week announced $150 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act grants to local governments across New Mexico to cover the cost of necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency.
The act was passed earlier this year by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law. Its goal is protecting Americans from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
The Department of Finance and Administration received 83 local government applications for $100 million made available for local governments and 66 applications for $50 million made available for small business grants via local governments.
Lujan Grisham said the funds are being shared out evenly and fairly to cities and towns.
“The pandemic has been devastating for all of us, not least local governments and small businesses across our state,” she said. “Every applicant received funding. No one gets left behind. There is still more to do, and together we will continue fighting this virus with everything we’ve got. Rural and smaller towns did very well, I think."
Local government grants are allocated for the City of Socorro and Socorro County. The City is receiving $242,061 and the county government has been allocated $45,000.
The local government grants can be used for child care assistance, purchase of personal protective equipment, sanitization of buildings, public service announcements, and personnel costs for public safety and health officials.
Grants specifically to support businesses include $198,000 for those in the City of Socorro and $26,093 for businesses in the county.
The small business grants can be used for non-owner employee payroll, marketing, rent and utilities, insurance, mortgage payments, and various redesign costs to make a business's operations mesh with current health restrictions and guidelines.
Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said in an interview with the Defensor Chieftain he appreciated the bipartisan support on the federal level and New Mexico's congressional delegation to bring the resources to the state.
"I know that we're all been impacted in one way or another with the pandemic and local governments have seen the impact tremendously," Morales said. "You know, I'm just a firm believer that a strong state government is reliant on a strong local government. Every applicant across the state received funding. No one gets left behind."
He said there is still more to do.
"Together we will continue fighting this virus with everything we’ve got," he said. "I'm just grateful that these monies were allocated for much-needed assistance
The Department of Finance and Administration scored applications based on criteria related to local government revenue lost due to expenses made responding directly to the health crisis. The total amount requested exceeded the funds made available by the federal government, therefore awards were prorated based on need as articulated by the entity’s application.
All requests for amounts less than $50,000 for direct local government grants were awarded in full.
“DFA has vast experience in scoring applications and scoring them fairly,” said Acting Finance and Administration Secretary Debbie Romero. “We were able to complete an expeditious and equitable process, and we’ll keep working with local governments all across the state to make sure these essential funds get out the door.”