Loudoun County’s finance committee will receive recommendations next month for how to spend an estimated $80 million of federal aid money for expenditures, investments, revenue loss and immediate needs, according to a Tuesday finance committee presentation.
On Monday, the U.S. Department Treasury announced its plan to distribute the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. The treasury will allocate $6.8 billion to the commonwealth, according to the federal department’s announcement.
As part of the treasury’s announcement, the Town of Leesburg, which is considered a metropolitan city, is expected to receive $5.9 million — at least $42 million less than estimated by multiple sources including from the Office of Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), who represents the 10th Congressional District, which includes Loudoun County.
“While we were hoping that that would be the end result, we really didn’t expect that it would be,” said Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk Wednesday morning.
“But, you know, it’s $6 million and that will most certainly help in many ways to fill the budget gap that we have, and we’re not going to send it back,” she added. “We most certainly are grateful for any help we can get.”
Towns, including the other six in Loudoun, are preparing to see their estimates fluctuate because they are classified as “non-entitlement governments” by the treasury department. These are governments that serve a population under 50,000.
Leesburg is one of seven incorporated towns in Loudoun including Hamilton, Round Hill, Lovettsville, Hillsboro, Middleburg and Purcellville.
Allocations for non-entitlement local governments will be released soon, according to the treasury’s release.
Robert Lazaro Jr., executive director for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and town councilmember in Purcellville, discussed the matter with his colleagues once the estimates were announced in March.
The Town of Purcellville is estimated to receive $9,250,037.26, according to Tommy Mattocks, communications director for Congresswoman Wexton.
The estimated allocations for the seven incorporated towns: Hamilton — $571,651.94, Hillsboro — $153,591.70, Leesburg — $48,828,527.42, Lovettsville — $1,997,600.89, Middleburg — $757,961.39, Purcellville — $9,250,037.26 and Round Hill — $596,190.26.
“There’s just some uncertainty around the rules and, for some, the amounts— and that’ll be clarified by treasury, because at the end of the day, treasury makes the rules,” Lazaro said in an earlier phone call with the Times-Mirror.
Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton also said he heard the estimate could fluctuate, “but we don’t know for certain yet.”
Virginia will have 30 days, presumably from Tuesday, to allocate those funds to the towns with less than 50,000, according to the plan.
Funding for the towns is excluded from the county’s appropriation.
As for the county, staff will provide a list of appropriation recommendations and allocations for immediate needs to the board’s finance committee in June 8, according to Caleb Weitz, assistant director in the Department of Finance & Budget.
Future meetings will be scheduled for recommendations on strategic investments.
Immediate needs include broadband expansion, nonprofit support and economic development programs. County staff is also considering to request an allocation of up to $20 million for fiscal 2021 General Fund revenue loss.
Similar to previous relief packages, the funds can only be used for one-time needs. The board is expected to be provided recommendations by county staff before voting on how the federal funds are spent.
In an earlier interview with the Times-Mirror, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said one of the advantages of the federal funding is that the county can use the funds for back pay and hazard pay. Fire fighters, group home and judicial system employees are some of those that would benefit.
The treasury department also announced last week the allocation of an additional $21.6 billion under the American Rescue Plan for emergency rental assistance, which will help prevent evictions and ensure basic housing security for millions of Americans impacted by the affordable housing challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.