Utah County expects to receive an additional $230 million this year in federal COVID-19 relief funding, grants and other “intergovernmental revenue” that it didn’t budget for in 2020, according to revenue projections presented to the Utah County Commission on Wednesday.
That number includes $19 million that has already been awarded to the county in order to provide coronavirus-related rental assistance, as well as $19 million to provide mortgage assistance.
The remaining $192 million is “additional outside funds” that the county anticipates getting “largely from the federal government in the form of grants for COVID-19 … response,” according to Utah County Deputy Clerk/Auditor Josh Daniels, including Federal Emergency Management Agency grants, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grants and money allocated by the U.S. Congress.
During a discussion about amending the county’s 2021 budget to account for the anticipated coronavirus funding, Utah County Budget Manager Rudy Livingston noted that most of the money would go into a restricted account and wouldn’t be spent until it received commission approval.
“So this is a procedural thing to allow us the flexibility to do things to fight the COVID pandemic as quickly as the funds are available, and as quickly as the commission wants those things to proceed,” the budget manager said.
Daniels told the commission that the county’s revenue projections at the end of 2020 “were wrong because we didn’t fully anticipate additional programs announced in 2021 that would create revenues in the form of grant funds from the federal government, assistance-type programs, FEMA reimbursement, etc.”
“And so we need to actually adjust our plan and our anticipation for 2021 so that we’re ready if and when funds are actually sent our way, (so) that we are able to use them for those programs,” Daniels said.
Commissioner Tom Sakievich questioned why the commission would approve changes to the budget when the $192 million in funding has yet to materialize, adding that “it might be $500 million” in funding by the time it gets to the county.
“We don’t know how much it is,” said Sakievich, who ultimately voted to approve the budget adjustment.
“That number just keeps climbing every time I look at it,” added Commissioner Bill Lee. “You never know. It gets scary, actually, in so many ways.”
The county also expects to see above-anticipated revenue from the Utah County Clerk Auditor’s Office, including an additional $220,000 from marriage licenses, $160,000 from clerk services fees and $120,000 from clerk passport fees. Of that, $85,000 will go toward hiring time-limited staff, while $400,000 will go into a restricted account, according to Daniels.
“We’re already bringing in revenue at a much higher pace than we anticipated, and that is also increasing the demand of the work,” said Daniels. “And so we need a few extra time-limited folks, part-time folks. And so that’s the plan.”
The Utah County Commission unanimously approved the 2021 budget amendments.
Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at [email protected] and 801-344-2599.