SOMERTON — This city figures to receive $1.9 million in federal funds to mitigate the financial fallout from the pandemic.
The money is coming from CARES — Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security — Act, the more than $2 trillion economic relief package approved by Congress in March.
Arizona’s share comes to the state, which, in turn, distributes it to cities and counties through the AZ CARES program. State officials have told the city to expect to receive $1.2 million for the current fiscal year, followed by another $700,000 allocation for the fiscal 2020-21, which starts Wednesday.
Somerton officials say the money will offset revenue losses the city has sustained or expects to absorb in the new fiscal year.
Owing to the pandemic, the city is expecting a loss of nearly $390,000 in fiscal 2020-21 in various state-shared revenues, which altogether account for about 48 percent of all money coming into the general fund, Somerton Finance Director Czarina Gallegos said.
The general fund, which is part of the overall budget, pays for day-to-day operations of most departments of city government.
Even receiving CARES Act money, the city council has instructed each department to cut its spending by 10 percent in the new year, so that $267,000 can be set aside as contingency for emergencies or unanticipated expenses.
But even with the pandemic, Somerton officials say they are not seeing a substantial reduction in the amount of revenue from the city’s sales tax.
Among expenditures budgeted for the new year are those for the hirings of two police officers and one security officer for Municipal Court; the purchase of a street sweeper and the repair of an existing sweeper, and purchase of a garbage collection truck.
Money also is budgeted for what city officials say is a pressing need to repair a 1.2 million-gallon water storage tank. The general fund will subsidize part of the more than $601,000 cost, since the water services account doesn’t hold enough money to pay the entire amount.
Gallegos said if revenue projections improve by mid-year, the city will consider restoring to the departments the money held in contingency.
Earlier this month, the city council adopted a preliminary budget of $26.2 million for fiscal 2020-21, up from $23.6 million this year. A final version of the budget is due for adoption by July 20.