Weasner: City of Crookston could see $604K in federal aid from CARES Act

Jess Bengtson

    The City of Crookston is projected to receive $604,304 in federal aid from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced last week that distributions could soon begin.

    Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner told the Times that the amount Crookston could receive is based on the “State demographers population estimate” which is 8,021.

    When asked how much money the city has been spent on COVID-19 related items/materials since the pandemic began, Weasner said she does not have a tabulation of expenses because there are payroll costs that need to be included as well. Any CARES Act money the city receives will help offset those expenses and they’re looking to purchase additional equipment that will be needed for “continual use” during the length of the pandemic and “assisting in sanitizing,” she added in another conversation with the Times.

    Weasner also mentioned, when prompted, that the decision for budget cuts in 2021, if there are any due to the pandemic, will be determined over the next couple of months when the departments and City Council review the budget needs. She added that the Parks & Recreation department currently has a program revenue loss of about $70,000 in 2020.

    Governor Walz issued his plan last week to distribute $853 million of federal CARES Act money to cities and counties to support local government COVID-19 relief efforts, saying the state will continue to “battle this pandemic together.” Funds are scheduled to be distributed on a rolling basis beginning the week of June 29 if approved by the Legislative Advisory Commission.

    Of the CARES Act money, Walz is allocating $12 million toward food shelves and food banks as roughly 300,000 Minnesotans have visited food shelves each month since the coronavirus pandemic began. The MN Department of Revenue will distribute the remaining $841 million to local governments which can be used to support government services or be distributed as grants to businesses, hospitals and people who have been impacted by the pandemic, said a press release.