American Rescue Plan Frequently Asked Questions

The Following list of FAQ's have been compiled for the use of County Governments throughout the State of New Jersey, The New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC), National Association of Counties (NACO) and The United States Treasury

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This list contains answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CSFRF / CLFRF, or Fiscal Recovery Funds). Treasury will be updating their guidance periodically in response to questions received from stakeholders.

01

The following governments are eligible:
•    States and the District of Columbia
•    Territories
•    Tribal governments
•    Counties
•    Metropolitan cities
•    Non-entitlement units, or smaller local governments

Which governments are eligible for funds?

02

What types of COVID-19 response, mitigation, and prevention activities are eligible?

A broad range of services are needed to contain COVID-19 and are eligible uses, including vaccination programs; medical care; testing; contact tracing; support for isolation or quarantine; supports for vulnerable populations to access medical or public health services; public health surveillance ( e.g., monitoring case trends, genomic sequencing for variants); enforcement of public health orders; public communication efforts; enhancement to health care capacity,

including through alternative care facilities; purchases of personal protective equipment; support for prevention, mitigation, or other services in congregate living facilities ( e.g., nursing homes, incarceration settings, homeless shelters, group living facilities) and other key settings like schools; ventilation improvements in congregate settings, health care settings, or other key locations; enhancement of public health data systems; and other public health responses. Capital investments in public facilities to meet pandemic operational needs are also eligible, such s physical plant improvements to public hospitals and health clinics or adaptations to public buildings to implement COVID-19 mitigation tactics. 

03

May recipients use funds to respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts by replenishing state unemployment funds?

Consistent with the approach taken in the CRF, recipients may make deposits into the state account of the Unemployment Trust Fund up to the level needed to restore the pre­pandemic balances of such account as of January 27, 2020, or to pay back advances received for the payment of benefits between January 27, 2020 and the date when the Interim Final Rule is published in the Federal Register.

04

What Types of Services are Eligible as Responses to the Negative Economic Impacts of The Pandemic?

Eligible uses in this category include assistance to households; small businesses and non­profits; and aid to impacted industries.
Assistance to households includes, but is not limited to: food assistance; rent, mortgage, or utility assistance; counseling and legal aid to prevent eviction or homelessness; cash assistance; emergency assistance for burials, home repairs, weatherization, or other needs; internet access or digital literacy assistance; or job training to address negative economic or public health impacts experienced due to a worker's occupation or level of training. 

 

Assistance to small business and non-profits includes, but is not limited to: 

  • loans or grants to mitigate financial hardship such as declines in revenues or impacts of periods of business closure, for example by supporting payroll and benefits costs, costs to retain employees, mortgage, rent, or utilities costs, and other operating costs; 

  • Loans, grants, or in-kind assistance to implement COVID-19 prevention or mitigation tactics, such as physical plant changes to enable social distancing, enhanced cleaning efforts, barriers or partitions, or COVID-19 vaccination, testing, or contact tracing programs; and 

  • Technical assistance, counseling, or other services to assist with business planning needs.

05

May recipients use funds for general economic development or workforce development?

Generally, not. Recipients must demonstrate that funding uses directly address a negative economic impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including funds used for economic or workforce development. For example, job training for unemployed workers may be used to address negative economic impacts of the public health emergency and be eligible.

06

How does the Interim Final Rule help address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on certain populations and geographies?

In recognition of the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 virus on health and economic outcomes in low-income and Native American communities, the Interim Final Rule identifies a broader range of services and programs that are considered to be in response to the public health emergency when provided in these communities. Specifically, Treasury will presume that certain types of services are eligible uses when provided in a Qualified Census Tract (QCT), to families living in QCTs, or when these services are provided by Tribal governments.
Recipients may also provide these services to other populations, households, or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In identifying these disproportionately-impacted communities, recipients should be able to support their determination for how the pandemic disproportionately impacted the populations, households, or geographic areas to be served.

 

Eligible services include:

•    Addressing health disparities and the social determinants of health, including: community health workers, public benefits navigators, remediation of lead paint or other lead hazards, and community violence intervention programs;
•    Building stronger neighborhoods and communities, including: supportive housing and other services for individuals experiencing homelessness, development of affordable housing, and housing vouchers and assistance relocating to neighborhoods with higher levels of economic opportunity;
•    Addressing educational disparities exacerbated by COVID-19, including: early learning services, increasing resources for high-poverty school districts, educational services like tutoring or afterschool programs, and supports for students' social, emotional, and mental health needs; and
•    Promoting healthy childhood environments, including: child care, home visiting programs for families with young children, and enhanced services for child welfare-involved families and foster youth.

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07

Are recipients expected to demonstrate that reduction in revenue is due to the COVID-19 public health emergency?

In the Interim Final Rule, any diminution in actual revenue calculated using the formula above would be presumed to have been "due to" the COVID-19 public health emergency. This presumption is made for administrative ease and in recognition of the broad-based economic damage that the pandemic has wrought.

08

Are recipients expected to demonstrate that reduction in revenue is due to the COVID-19 public health emergency?

Under 602(c)(l)(C) or 603(c)(l)(C), recipients may use funds for maintenance of infrastructure or pay-go spending for building of new infrastructure as part of the general provision of government services, to the extent of the estimated reduction in revenue due to the public health emergency.

Under 602(c)(l)(A) or 603(c)(l)(A), a general infrastructure project typically would not be considered a response to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts unless the project responds to a specific pandemic-related public health need
(e.g., investments in facilities for the delivery of vaccines) or a specific negative economic impact of the pandemic (e.g., affordable housing in a Qualified Census Tract).

09

What types of water and sewer projects are eligible uses of funds?

The Interim Final Rule generally aligns eligible uses of the Funds with the wide range of types or categories of projects that would be eligible to receive financial assistance through the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water State Revolving Fund 
(CWSRF) or Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).
 

Under the DWSRF, categories of eligible projects include: treatment, transmission and distribution (including lead service line replacement), source rehabilitation and decontamination, storage, consolidation, and new systems development. 

Under the CWSRF, categories of eligible projects include: construction of publicly ­owned treatment works, nonpoint source pollution management, national estuary program projects, decentralized wastewater treatment systems, storm water systems, water conservation, efficiency, and reuse measures, watershed pilot projects, energy efficiency measures for publicly-owned treatment works, water reuse projects, security measures at publicly-owned treatment works, and technical assistance to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act. 

As mentioned in the Interim Final Rule, eligible projects under the DWSRF and CWSRF support efforts to address climate change, as well as to meet cybersecurity needs to protect water and sewer infrastructure. Given the lifelong impacts of lead exposure for children, and the widespread nature of lead service lines, Treasury also encourages recipients to consider projects to replace lead service lines. 

10

What types of broadband projects are eligible?

The Interim Final Rule requires eligible projects to reliably deliver minimum speeds of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload. In cases where it is impracticable due to geography, topography, or financial cost to meet those standards, projects must reliably deliver at least 100 Mbps download speed, at least 20 Mbps upload speed, and be scalable to a minimum of 100 Mbps download speed and 100 Mbps upload speed. 

Projects must also be designed to serve unserved or underserved households and businesses, defined as those that are not currently served by a wireline connection that reliably delivers at least 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps of upload speed. 

11

May recipients use funds to pay for vaccine incentive programs (e.g., cash or in-kind transfers, lottery programs, or other incentives for individuals who get vaccinated)?

Yes. Under the Interim Final Rule, recipients may use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, including expenses related to COVID-19 vaccination programs. See forthcoming 31 CFR 
3 5 .6(b )(1 )(i). Programs that provide incentives reasonably expected to increase the number of people who choose to get vaccinated, or that motivate people to get vaccinated sooner than they otherwise would have, are an allowable use of funds so long as such costs are reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefit. 

- Matt Holt, Commissioner
“Our taxpayers here in Hunterdon County can rest assured that the significant and detailed financial controls and systems of accountability that are in place for the county budget and tax dollars will be also be implemented to ensure that every dime of these funds are managed and expended properly and appropriately.”