Lt. Gov. Morales Focused on Tri-County

By Bill Armendariz, Deming Headlight  September 10, 2020

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday announced $150 million in CARES Act grants to local governments across New Mexico to cover the cost of necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency.

“The pandemic has been devastating for all of us, not least local governments and small businesses across our state,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “My administration will continue to deliver whatever resources we have and can make available to help our communities maintain essential services and respond to the public health emergency. Every applicant received funding. No one gets left behind. There is still more to do, and together we will continue fighting this virus with everything we’ve got.”

The Department of Finance and Administration received 83 local government applications for $100 million made available for local governments and 66 applications for $50 million made available for small business grants via local governments. 

Applications were open to almost all of New Mexico’s local governments, excluding only the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, which received CARES Act funds directly from the federal government. 

“We saw that Deming, Luna County and Columbus benefited from this funding quite a bit. I know that there are many expenses that are still outstanding due to COVID-19 but we are grateful that we were able to work together,” said NM Lt. Gov. Howie Morales.

“Of all the total amount of dollars that came in for requests we only had enough funding to do half of those but I think it’s going to go a long way and local governments have been grateful.”

The Department of Finance and Administration scored applications based on criteria related to local government revenue lost due to expenses made responding directly to the health crisis. The total amount requested exceeded the funds made available by the federal government; awards were therefore prorated based on need as articulated by the entity’s application. All requests for amounts less than $50,000 for direct local government grants were awarded in full.

“DFA has vast experience in scoring applications and scoring them fairly,” said Acting Finance and Administration Secretary Debbie Romero. “We were able to complete an expeditious and equitable process, and we’ll keep working with local governments all across the state to make sure these essential funds get out the door.”

In focusing on the tri-county area (Hidalgo, Luna and Grant), Morales hoped the grants would be of great assistance to these counties.

“In communication with many of the local leaders in all of these three counties I know there are have concerns about the lack of gross receipts that have come in because of the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses,” Morales told the Headlight. “These expenses could be used for child care, to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and to assist health care workers, fire and law enforcement during this pandemic. Those are just a few examples of what the dollars can be used for.

“In addition, there were some dollars that were sent to local communities to help businesses, because I know businesses have been really struggling. Governments in these counties can coordinate with their local businesses to see how they can help.”

The awards for direct local and area government grants are as follows:

• City of Bayard – $556,661

• Village of Columbus – $126,692

• City of Deming – $148,500

• Grant County – $118,125

• Town of Hurley – $20,000

• City of Lordsburg – $16,894

• Luna County – $173,051

• Village of Santa Clara – $50,000

• Town of Silver City – $489,375

The grant awards for small businesses via local governments are as follows:

• City of Bayard – $93,188

• Village of Columbus – $186,375

• City of Deming – $186,375

• Grant County – $93,188

• Town of Hurley – $27,956

• City of Lordsburg – $335,394

• Luna County – $239,625

• Town of Silver City – $359,438

Expenses were outlined explicitly in the application process to ensure they matched CARES Act requirements dictated by the federal government. New Mexico would be held liable for refund payment to the federal government should an expense not fit the specific requirements. The Department of Finance and Administration developed application questions to help ensure such repayment is not necessary.

The following are eligible expenses for local government grants:

• Small business continuity grants 

• Child care assistance

• Purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) required to conduct government business

• Expenses incurred to mitigate the spread—sanitizing, public service announcements

• Public health and safety personnel costs

• Senior programs, corrections, police, fire and EMS

The following are eligible expenses for small business grants:

• Business continuity:

• Non-owner employee payroll

• Rent

• Scheduled mortgage payments

• Insurance

• Utilities

• Marketing

• Business redesign:

• Reconfiguring physical space

• Installing plexiglass barriers

• Purchasing web-conferencing or other technology to facilitate work-at-home

• PPE for employees

• Temporary structures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19