Coronavirus 09

Utah cities and counties will soon start getting $562 million, allocated by the state based on populations of each entity, that comes from the federal coronavirus relief act -- CARES -- a top state budget committee heard Wednesday.

The Executive Appropriations Committee reviewed the allocation process, put together by the Utah League of Cities and Towns and the Utah Association of Counties.

Under the federal law, Salt Lake County has already got $203 million and Utah County $111 million, based on populations, directly to them. The other $246 million now goes counties and cities, based on each’s populations.

All this comes from the $1.25 billion that Utah gets under CARES.

The first distribution will come in June, with the remaining two coming in the summer and fall.

Salt Lake and Utah counties have their money now, and cities within each county will get their share out of those county monies.

But the other 27 counties don’t have money -- that will happen now, and cities within those counties can soon start getting reimbursed for the expenses they are making fighting the coronavirus.

This money IS NOT to help local government budget themselves -- mainly through loss of tax revenues because of the virus’ impacts on, for example, sales tax or motel and hotel taxes, etc., which could be hard-hitting. Such aid to local governments is now being debated in Congress, but no action yet on that.

Executive Appropriations also demanded that each month the governor’s budget office report, through the Legislature’s budget staff, how the monies from the CARES act are being spent by the state.

As readers know, the media have been reporting almost daily how the administration of Gov. Gary Herbert has been spending some of the coronavirus-fighting efforts — and questions are being raised.

Now, state Auditor John Dougall is investigating those expenses.

Top state legislative bosses, who are on the Exec Approp, want to be briefed regularly on how future expenses are being made.