Dauphin County Commissioners announce COVID-19 recovery grant program for municipalities

HARRISBURG, PA (August 3, 2020) On Monday, Aug. 3, municipalities can apply for grants to help with coronavirus-related expenses, and small businesses and nonprofits will be able to apply for funding later this summer, the Dauphin County Commissioners announced today.

The online application for the Dauphin County COVID-19 Recovery Municipal Grant Program is available at www.dauphincounty.org/cares.

“Our goal is to put Dauphin County in the best position to cover costs related to the pandemic and recover economically,” said Commissioner Mike Pries, who oversees the county’s Office of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which is administering the program. “This grant funding will help offset significant costs incurred by the county and local governments. It will cover vital needs without placing an additional financial burden on taxpayers.”

The Municipal Grant Program and later grants for small businesses and nonprofits comes from a portion of the $25.1 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the county recently received from the state.

Board Chairman Jeff Haste said the program is especially crucial since the county expects to have fewer funds to offer through gaming grants, due to decreased casino revenue caused by the COVID-19 shutdown and continuing restrictions.

“By easing some of the financial pressure related to pandemic-related expenses, we hope that municipalities can limit the impact on property taxes, which is the main source of revenue for local governments,’’ Haste said. “Additionally, we realize the coronavirus continues to impact businesses and nonprofits substantially, and we are committed to helping them weather this economic storm.’’

While grants cannot replace lost revenues, municipalities may use the funds to cover unbudgeted, coronavirus-related expenses incurred from March 1, 2020 to Dec. 30, 2020. Municipalities must demonstrate how use of funds relates to responding to or preparing for coronavirus.

Examples of eligible municipal uses under the Dauphin County COVID Recovery Municipal Grant Program:

  • Purchase of personal protective equipment for municipal staff;
  • Retrofitting of municipal building to accommodate social distancing and health/safety best practices;
  • Purchase of sanitation supplies or services;
  • Personnel costs for first responders and front-line workers including police, EMA, fire, and other public safety personnel;
  • Costs for purchasing software and equipment to facilitate teleworking;
  • Costs for purchasing software and equipment for virtual meetings;
  • Costs for website, digital, and print communications coronavirus related to the coronavirus;
  • Behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment services;
  • Temperature screening equipment; and
  • Costs of developing pandemic response plan.

“We are not only dealing with an unprecedented uptick in the demand for essential services but also an economic downturn that has caused considerable hardship and growing shortfall in revenue,” said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “Our grant program will ensure the funds go where they will do the most good.”

CARES Act funding also helped to expand COVID-19 testing in the county. Hamilton Health Center received a direct allocation of CARES funding from the federal government to conduct free testing in the City of Harrisburg and satellite locations, one of which is in Millersburg, Dauphin County.

The deadline for municipalities to apply is Friday, Aug. 14 at 4:30 p.m. Applications will be reviewed and evaluated by the county DCED. The county commissioners are expected to award grants to municipalities later this summer. As outlined in the CARES Act, grant money must be used by December 30, 2020.