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By Bob Katzen, BHR
 
Groton Eligible For Up To $1,003,378 for COVID-19 Relief
 
     Gov. Baker announced that his administration is preparing to distribute up to $502 million to Massachusetts cities and towns from the commonwealth’s $2.7 billion allocation from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, funding designed to defray costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
     The plan will allow cities and towns to apply for estimated fiscal year 2020 needs immediately and then apply for fiscal year 2021 funds at a later date.
     The funds must be utilized by municipalities for eligible costs related to the COVID-19 response effort, consistent with parameters established by the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES” Act) and guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
     The funds distributed to the various towns and municipalities is not an automatic grant. Rather local governments must apply for the funds for certain approved uses, many involving public safety and public health. Groton is eligible for up to $1,003,378. Dunstable is eligible for $300,123 and Ayer for $719,801.
     The available funds represent approximately 25 percent of the funding the state received from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and will help ease municipal cashflow pressures. The Baker administration says it plans to distribute money to cities and towns quickly and efficiently and maintain necessary flexibility to allocate additional funds if unanticipated needs arise, or if federal rules change.
     “The funding is an important first step in recognizing the tremendous costs incurred by communities in helping to address the pandemic and helping them maintain their fiscal stability,” said House GOP Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). Not everyone agrees this is a good idea. “Never let a crisis go to waste,” said Chip Ford, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT). “This one has clearly defined who the ‘essential workers’ are and [who] are not. Municipalities and the state now have their own ‘new normal starting points' when it’s over. Federal helicopter money dropped over the states to assist in this crisis of course needs to be distributed to the cities and towns as designed.”
     “The state is awarding money to cities and towns that they are borrowing from the federal government," said Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Executive Director Paul Craney. "Massachusetts is already the highest indebted state in the country per capita,” said Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Executive Director Paul Craney. “The best way out of this economic depression is to allow business owners and their workers to safely get back to work.”
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