Bill Would Require Cities to Seek FEMA Reimbursement for Expenses Paid With Coronavirus Relief Funds

February 22, 2021

A forthcoming amendment would make the requirement optional in certain situations.

A bill has been introduced that would require local governments to seek reimbursement for expenses paid for with Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) if the expenses were eligible to be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The bill (SF 1089, Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont) would include additional FEMA reimbursement resulting from President Biden’s recent order to increase the FEMA reimbursement rate to 100% of eligible pandemic related costs.

FEMA-eligible expenses include costs for masks, gloves, emergency feeding actions, sheltering at-risk populations, and mobilization of the National Guard. The president’s order would allow FEMA assistance to be back dated to the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020.

League concerns

The League contacted Sen. Marty to express concerns about the challenges the bill would create for cities across the state. In response, Sen. Marty indicated that he introduced the bill because it is in Minnesota’s interest to maximize federal funding for these expenses, and this bill is intended to make that possible.

However, he stressed that he does not want to put an additional unfunded responsibility on cities and counties. He is preparing an amendment that would make it optional for local governments to pursue reimbursement if the amount is small or the difficulty of applying is too great. He will also seek to provide state reimbursement for any local expenses for applying for FEMA reimbursement.

Sen. Marty also indicated that he welcomes any feedback about the bill and the amendment he plans to offer.

If you have reactions to the bill and the described amendment, please contact League staff members Gary Carlson at gcarlson@lmc.org or Lisa Sova at lsova@lmc.org.