CT Towns To Spend over $62 Million Battling Coronavirus By July
New Haven Register, May 28, 2020
By Brian Lockhart
Connecticut’s cities and towns have spent a combined $26.8 million battling the COVID-19 pandemic and expect that total to reach $62.3 million by July 1.
On the other side of the ledger, municipalities projected losing $406.6 million in revenues as a result of the new coronavirus crisis.
Those figures were in a document prepared by the state Office of Policy and Management and released Wednesday as Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration readies a plan to distribute $1.38 billion of federal reimbursement dollars to local governments.
Mayors, selectmen and school boards need Washington D.C. to offset not only the staggering costs of their now three-month-effort to stop the rapid spread of the fatal illness , but also to safely reopen public buildings and services without a vaccine.
In hard-hit Fairfield and New Haven counties, Danbury, New Haven and Stamford so far spent the most on the pandemic — $1.6 million, $1.5 million and $913,352, respectively. Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, invested $798,334, according to the data officials there provided to OPM. That amount will reach $1.6 million by July, trailing Danbury’s $3.6 million, Stamford’s $3.06 million and New Haven’s $2.5 million of anticipated costs.
It was not clear whether all of the municipalities had also forwarded education-related COVID expenses, such as purchasing technology for classes to continue from home with schools closed and to maintain meal programs for students.
State spreadsheet back to top
The state spreadsheet also showed that Norwalk spent $403,394 and that figure will rise to $628,856.
Greenwich’s initial expenses were not immediately available, but that town estimated spending $1.08 million on COVID by July 1.
Data from Westport, which gained national attention for an early spike in cases and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, had not been provided OPM as of Wednesday.
Torrington, located in Litchfield County, and Middletown in Middlesex County, also spent money fighting the coronavirus, though those regions had fewer cases than Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford counties.
Middletown’s current tab was $602,751, which was projected to increase to $1.4 million by July 1. Torrington spent $284,802 and officials there estimated that will increase to $538,532.
Local governments have had to pay overtime to healthcare, emergency response, and sanitation workers; invest in masks, gloves and other personal protective gear for employees and residents; purchase technology to allow staff to work from and educators to teach from home; spend on materials to enforce the closure of parks and other public spaces; and provide food and shelter to suddenly job-less residents or those who were homeless before the COVID-caused economic crisis.
And while many of those costs continue, cities and towns have also been upgrading municipal offices to keep personnel and the public safe during the gradual reopening of public buildings.
There are three main sources of federal aid: A disaster relief fund maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency containing $80 billion; the $1.38 billion the state received in the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund; and an additional $111 million from the Elementary and Secondary Education Relief Fund.
Lamont and OPM have been under pressure from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to act more swiftly to release the $1.38 billion. The governor during his Tuesday press briefing on the health crisis stressed that the state was working on a distribution plan, which included collecting the expense and revenue information that OPM released Wednesday.