by Mike Knaak
St. Joseph’s $551,340 share of CARES Act federal funding will be split between public safety and public health needs, the City Council decided Aug. 3.
Congress passed the measure in the spring with the money distributed by the states to each locality based on population. The money can only be used for expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The public safety expenses of $227,235 includes radios for police and firefighters, police department computer equipment, election equipment and plexiglass barriers.
Public health needs include office spacing in several departments, heating and air conditioning updates in the Government Center, wash stations in the parks, electronic and computer equipment and a pickup for Public Works.
A committee of City Administrator Kris Ambuehl, Finance Director Lori Bartlett, Mayor Rick Schutlz and Council Member Bob Loso put together the recommended expenses.
St. Joseph also set aside $56,250 of the CARES Act money for business assistance in partnership with Stearns County. If the money is not used by Sept. 15, the committee suggested buying a second Public Works vehicle.
The balance of $12,000 was set aside for unknown costs that may come up. Additional equipment and business assistance grants can be added if there are unused funds before Nov. 15.
The council also approved an application for a separate Federal Emergency Management Agency grant of $78,000.
Minnesota received $2 billion of the $150 billion set aside for states. St. Joseph received $75.34 for each citizen.