County seeks input on spending its $32M in CARES Act money

Posted on June 30, 2020 by Staff reports

Santa Rosa County is expected to receive roughly $32 million in CARES Act funding aimed to aid local economic recovery related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, is the largest federal stimulus package in U.S. history, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on June 10 announced the state would be disbursing up to $1.275 billion in CARES Act funding to counties.

Santa Rosa County will receive an initial 25 percent disbursement of around $8 million. The remaining $24,120,897 balance will be available on a cost-reimbursement basis.

The funding is available only for expenses incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020.

According to guidance issued by the U.S. Treasury Department, local governments are responsible for making determinations as to what expenditures are necessary due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 and do not need to submit any proposed expenditures to Treasury.

The county may not use the funds for damages covered by insurance nor expenses related to payroll or benefits for employees whose work duties are not substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the pandemic.

However, the county may spend the monies on expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures.

Other allowable expenses include:

  • Medical expenses such as for public hospitals;
  • Public health expenses such as purchasing and distributing personal protective equipment;
  • Payroll expenses for certain public health/safety employees;
  • Expenditures related to a state, territorial, local, or tribal government payroll support
  • Expenses to facilitate COVID-19 health measures such as state prison sanitation, care for homeless or vulnerable populations and distance learning;
  • Unemployment insurance costs related to the COVID-19 public health emergency if such
    costs will not be reimbursed by the federal government pursuant to the CARES Act or
  • Any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that
    satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.

Santa Rosa County is currently seeking input on how CARES Act funding should be utilized to best serve county residents and businesses.

Individuals who live, work or own a business in the county may submit feedback by:

  • Taking a short online by clicking here: survey.
  • Attending a virtual stakeholder workshop. The workshop is tentatively scheduled for July 10. Details will be published to the county meeting calendar and subscribers will be notified via news release when the date and time are finalized.
  • Sending written comments to

A draft of the county’s CARES Act plan, based on local needs identified through community feedback and data-driven analysis, will be presented and available for public comment at the July 23 commission meeting.

Applications for assistance are anticipated to open in August with emergency relief beginning shortly thereafter.

For questions, email or call Jared Lowe, 850-981-2017.