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Mesa prepares plans for Federal CARES Act money

Posted at 5:08 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 23:37:21-04

MESA, AZ — The coronavirus has taken a costly toll across the state.

But federal funds as part of the CARES Act are now making their way to some of the hardest hit in our community.

The City of Mesa is on the brink of injecting $90 million into its community.

It’s one of five Arizona cities/counties with populations greater than 500,000 receiving money from the Federal CARES Act. The others are Phoenix, Mesa Tucson, Pima and Maricopa counties.

“It’s really an emergency allocation of dollars to really help the community in a variety of different ways,” said Mesa City Manager Chris Brady.

Brady says the money will go in several different buckets.

The largest portion, around $50 million, will go toward public safety.

“Public safety, specifically police and fire are most likely dealing with something related to the disease or at least having to prepare themselves for that event,” said Brady, who added that percentage of money matches what other cities of similar size are spending on public safety.

He says the $50 million covers some of the payroll expenses for those first responders from March of this year through December.

It also helps pay for continued training and personal protective equipment.

As food banks continue to help record numbers of families, $10 million will go to the United Food Bank, Midwest Food Bank, canned food drives and other programs centered on feeding those in need.

Another $20 million will soon help struggling small businesses.

“Last I heard there were like 500 or 600 applicants,” said Mesa Chamber of Commerce CEO Sally Harrison.

Harrison says that money will aid with utility, rent and mortgage payments.

It also expands the already successful small business grant program.

One that offers to help pay for legal services, business coaching, even website design.

“You’d be surprised how many small businesses don’t even have a web presence, don’t have a social media presence, this is just a great opportunity for somebody to take advantage of some extra help,” said Harrison.

$2.5 million will help pay for improved sanitation measures inside city buildings.

Plexiglas barriers at public facing desks, hands free improvements on doors as well as air filtration systems in high use city buildings.

Another $2.5 million is heading to local schools for technology to assist low income families with remote learning.

The city also plans to expand overnight shelter options for the homeless, assist low income families with utility bills and purchase $500,000 in PPE.

The city says millions more will be set aside as possible future expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic pop up.