City’s Emergency Funds at $6.7 Million | Officials Track Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spending for Federal Aid

In anticipation of growing costs for resources in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the City of South Pasadena is looking to request more funds from federal and state levels

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | (L-R): City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe; Mayor Pro Tem Diana Mahmud; Mayor Robert S. Joe

The City of South Pasadena is tracking its coronavirus pandemic expenses in hope of being reimbursed under state and federal relief programs. “While funding amounts, sources and eligibility [guidelines] have not all been released, tracking all costs now provides options to submit claims as the opportunities become available,” the city said in a statement emailed April 7 to the South Pasadenan News.

But the city would not release any estimates of its cost-to-date or projected expenses, saying doing so would be “too preliminary. We do not know how long this will continue but it does represent a significant expense,” wrote City spokeswoman Rachel McGuire. She said costs typically reimbursed during natural disasters include overtime and purchases made directly for disaster relief. But the current crisis “is not a typical disaster so we cannot anticipate what kind of reimbursements the Federal government will provide.”

In a March 23 letter to the state’s Office of Emergency Management, South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe said she is “anticipating the response and recovery will be beyond the control of local resources and require the combined financial assistance and resources from regional, State and Federal governments and their partners.”

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The city’s emergency reserve fund stands at $6,719,595, according to report filed March 4. Also in early March, it identified one of its strategic plan priorities for the fourth quarter to be development of a “needs analysis and implementation schedule to address gaps in disaster coverage and begin recruiting for critical functions with community partners.”

This week the city also offered an outline of prospective reimbursement programs. Under the President’s March 13, 2020 National Emergency Declaration, local governments are eligible for reimbursement for COVID-19-related emergency protective measure costs under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) have guidelines for management of disaster assistance programs detailing what activities and expenses are allowed under both the Stafford Act and the State’s Disaster Assistance Act.

The FEMA rules require the expense tracking the city is already undertaking, and the City has already sent a placeholder letter to Cal OES asking for funds for its response and recovery work. It was unclear if the city sent the required Form 130 required under the CDAA. But it did ask OES Los Angeles County deputy director Leslie Luke to expedite access to all state and federal resources.

City staff is also evaluating eligibility for funds that may be available under the $350 billion CARES Act the President signed March 27. McGuire said the National League of Cities has been lobbying for additional assistance as well. The city has not made any specific requests through its state or federal legislative delegations, she said.


Ben Tansey
Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.