Tulsa County has begun awarding nearly $114 million in federal funds it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.
The first allocation went primarily to the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency, which was granted over $1.6 million for KN95 face masks and new emergency operations software that will more readily allow for remote work. The Tulsa County Election Board received $300,000 to perform construction based on CDC social distancing recommendations. The remainder went to the county's social services and building operations departments.
Terry Simonson, the county's director of governmental affairs, said that of the Oklahoma governments who received CARES Act funding - which also includes Oklahoma County, Oklahoma City, and the state government - Tulsa County was the first to begin administering the funds in this way.
"This was the first round of applications which will probably come weekly," Simonson said. "The money is starting to flow out into the community and out into the county departments that deal with the community."
Simonson said the money can be awarded internally, to county departments and agencies, as well as externally, to municipal governments and nonprofit organizations within the county, and must be completely spent by the end of this calendar year.
The funds are allowed to be used for necessary expenses arising from the coronavirus pandemic, with the exception of lost revenue.
"The CARES package now specifically prohibits these funds from being used for loss of revenue," Simonson said.
Simonson said that's one drawback of the current funding for Tulsa County, which has lost revenue in sales tax, diesel tax, and other typical revenue streams.
"It's our understanding that this week or next week that Congress is going to take up yet another package, CARES 2.0, and a substantial part of that will be funding that the state or local governments could use for loss of revenue," Simonson said.
The next round of applications for the remaining $111-plus million will be considered by the Board of County Commissioners on Monday.