Selectmen Request $3.3M From County CARES Program
By Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff; October 8, 2020
Courtesy of Plymouth County Commissioners
Last spring, the Selectmen voted to move forward with a pre-COVID budget for FY21 but included what they termed "Austerity Measures" to offset the financial impact of the pandemic. There was some discussion at an Advisory Committee (AdCom) meeting about dipping into the "Rainy Day" fund to provide some additional support to the town.
In the meantime, the Plymouth County Commissioners applied for funding from the federal government's CARES Act and were awarded $90M which was to be divided up among the 27 towns in the County. The allocations for the towns are based primarily on population and are divided into four phases. Monies available to Hingham through the Plymouth County CARES program total $3,265,191.59. To date, Hingham has received $59,940.75 and has another $687,761.49 in process.
CARES funding is to be used for COVID-related expenses only. Any costs that municipalities incur as a result of the coronavirus are considered eligible. This includes technology for schools, cleaning of buildings, even town meeting accommodations. However, unlike the CARES program the State is running for the rest of Massachusetts, the Plymouth County CARES program requires receipts be submitted after the fact for reimbursement.
Because the towns have not been expending the funds as quickly as anticipated - only $28M in applications have been processed to date, the Commissioners asked that administration from each town complete a form describing what they expect to use through the end of the year. That form was due on Friday. Some towns said they would not need all of the money that had been set aside for them; others noted they would need more; and still other towns, like Hingham, stated that they would be using the entire amount allotted to them. Only time will tell what the funds will be used for; however, given the time of year, Commissioner Dan Pallotta felt that there may be some common expenditures among the towns. "We're expecting an influx of school-related expenses throughout the County," he said.
Any money that is not used will be reallocated to other towns in November, and that reallocation will be based on need. At the end of the year, any money that is not spent will be returned to the federal government