New Castle County Council this week approved allocating up to $136 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for several statewide programs.
County Executive Matt Meyer said the county was one of approximately 177 jurisdictions in the United States to receive CARES Act funds.
"We are the only jurisdiction in the country, the only local jurisdiction, that's assisting the state government," said Meyer. "In many cases the state government is providing additional assistance to the local jurisdiction.
"What we're doing is we're making sure testing is fully available and paid for. We're making sure contact tracing is paid for. That money is of no concern when the state provides these services to the residents of New Castle County as well Kent and Sussex counties," said Meyer.
About half of the allocation, $67.5 million, is going to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
"We're making sure that unemployment insurance rates will not be increased for small business owners and businesses across our county and state," said Meyer. "We're also making sure childcare is available.
"In a time of crisis, in a pandemic in America, money should not be a limitation," said Meyer. "We need to be thinking about public health. We need to be thinking about making sure people have jobs so that they can pay their rent, pay their mortgages, and keep their mental and emotional health intact."
New Castle County government received $322.8 million in CARES Act funds from the federal government while the State of Delaware received more than $900 million.
Some state officials at the time balked at the amount the county received and wanted a large chunk of that funding as well.
Meyer said coronavirus funding shouldn't get caught up in a jurisdictional debate.
"I look at it from the perspective of a resident and a taxpayer - I don't really care what government gets the money - I want quality services," said Meyer. "There should be no daylight between us and the state government in the middle of a pandemic."
Here is a complete list of the CARES Act funding allocations from New Castle County to the State of Delaware:
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (county contribution: up to $67.5 million)
Based on actual unemployment claims through mid-September and estimates through the rest of the year, the total statewide amount of COVID-19 unemployment claims paid for the forty-two-week period, March 15 to December 30, 2020, will be $273 million. Approximately 55% of the statewide claims are from residents in New Castle County.
Essential Childcare Program (county contribution: up to $38 million)
The state childcare program provides supplemental benefits to centers during the pandemic. During the various stages of the governor’s State of Emergency many facilities have had to, and continue to, either reduce their capacity or close completely. In order to maintain an infrastructure of childcare facilities post COVID-19 this grant/subsidy program was created. Total cost of the program state-wide is estimated to be $128 million.
Statewide Testing Program (county contribution: up to $20.6 million)
Program will continue to provide access to testing regardless of symptoms to all residents of Delaware. Statewide costs are expected to be approximately $80 million.
Statewide Contract Tracing Program (county contribution: up to $3.1 million)
Program for contractual and technology expenses to run contact tracing program in Delaware. Statewide cost expected to be $12 million.
Enhanced Rent & Utility Program (county contribution: - up to $4.7 million)
It is estimated that 70% of the recipients of this program reside in New Castle County. The program provides emergency housing assistance to renters affected by shutdowns, closures, layoffs, reduced work hours, or unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) provides eligible households up to $1,500 in assistance, with payments made directly to the property owner or utility company.
Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (county contribution: up to $1.8 million)
Program established to assist hospitality-related businesses in Delaware that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. No-interest loans of up to $10,000 per business per month to help the estimated 2,700 affected Delaware businesses in the hospitality industry cover immediate, unavoidable expenses. Statewide program expected to cost $8.5 million with an estimated 48% of applicants are in New Castle County.