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The federal CARES Act provided funding to states, counties, and cities to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Blaine began operating the city’s emergency operations center in mid-March and incurred a number of costs related to the pandemic. This federal funding means that the city is able to cover its expenses related to the pandemic without having to draw on the city’s general fund. City staff also put into place many cost containment measures because this funding cannot be used to replace lost revenue.
The city purchased personal protective equipment for staff. This included outfitting the police department, public works staff, and others who, by the nature of their job responsibilities, need to continue to work in person at city facilities throughout the pandemic. This funding allowed the city to offset the costs of preparing staff to work remotely when their job function allowed. CARES funding also allowed the city to put the proper protections and systems in place to reopen Blaine City Hall by appointment only in June. City buildings received HVAC improvements as recommended by public health experts and underwent many modifications to reduce touch points for staff and customers.
This funding is also being used to provide emergency meal assistance through the Mary Ann Young Center to at risk seniors in the community.
In addition to the city’s pandemic related expenses, the Blaine City Council approved a small business and nonprofit grant program that infused a large portion of CARES funding into the local economy. Nearly 70 Blaine businesses and nonprofits received a $10,000 grant through the city. Additionally the city was able to provide a larger grant to both Fogerty Arena and the National Sports Center, two vitally important community assets in Blaine that were hit incredibly hard by the pandemic.
Federal CARES act funding must be spent by November 15, 2020. There will be more pandemic related expenses past this date. However, this funding has put the city in a good position to withstand the COVID-19 economic storm and allowed the city to put the needed protections in place to provide for safe interactions between the city and the community during the pandemic.