COOLIDGE — The city of Coolidge plans to put just over $1.5 million in coronavirus aid funding towards public safety salaries.
City staff was given the green light to apply for its allocation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act monies at the regular June 22 council meeting.
Coolidge will receive $1,507,410 in CARES Act funding from the state, which will cover a portion of salaries and benefits for public safety personnel between March 1 to Dec. 31st of this year, Finance Director Gabe Garcia said.
Much of the guidance Arizona municipalities have received from Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns has recommended allocating the funds toward public safety in light of the higher risk those employees face during the pandemic, he said.
Other communities have also outlined their plans for their portion of CARES funding, with some planning to use at least a portion of the funding to support local businesses and nonprofits.
Doing so, however, might require cities to proceed with extreme caution. According to Garcia, providing aid to local businesses and organizations has not been clearly identified by the state as an allowable use of the CARES Act money allocated to cities.
The fact has led the city of Coolidge to play it safe when it comes to what it plans to do with the monetary aid.
What has been determined as a clear cut use, he said, is offsetting public safety salaries. With the issue of cities disbursing CARES funding to businesses still mired in questions, the city’s finance department made the decision to fund police and fire wages to avoid the potential for the city be asked repay its portion of the monetary aid should providing assistance local businesses be deemed an unallowable use down the line.
Once disbursed, the money will help cover the expenses incurred by salaries for members of full time Coolidge Fire Department as well as officers and sergeants at the Coolidge Police Department from March 1 to Dec. 31st of this year.
The funding, Garcia noted, will not fund any overtime, but will cover the regular salaries of police and fire personnel and benefits.
“(CARES) definitely provides some relief for cities,” he said. “We’re still not sure what the effect of the lost (state shared) revenue will be, so this helps us alleviate some of those unknowns.”