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Mayors want a piece of 1.25 billion in federal coronavirus CARES Act funding

A coalition of Maine mayors say the money is needed to to offset what they say could be a looming financial crisis due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

AUBURN, Maine — Earlier this month, Maine received 1.25 billion dollars in funding under the CARES Act. According to the feds can only be spent on coronavirus COVID-19 related expenses between March 1 to August 31st of this year. 

The coalition includes Mayors from nine towns including Lewiston, Auburn, South Portland and Portland. 

Mayors have been talking to the Governor's office since the federal stimulus funds were sent to the state in early May.  

Jason Levesque, the mayor of Auburn says as a service center his city has endured bigger financial hits than smaller communities. 

Since March, the city has spent about two-hundred thousand dollars in emergency funding and general operating budget in grants for business, meals program for seniors, and safety equipment. 

The funds are not allowed to be used to make up revenue shortfalls but Levesque says the funding would go to help businesses with PPE and remote learning costs. 

'To make sure that they understand in Augusta, we have expenses related to enforcing directives coming from the Governor's office, those expenses can and should be reimbursed,'  said Jason Levesque, Mayor of Auburn. 

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Augusta Mayor David Rollins, who is a member of the Mayors' Coalition tells NEWS CENTER Maine, mayors will meet again Tuesday with the Governor's office to continue discussions about the potential allocation of federal funding. 

'The Administration is awaiting action from Congress to adjust some components of the CARES Act and provide flexibility in terms of the time and the way the funding can be spent.' according to a statement from Lindsey Crete, spokeswoman for Mills. 

The Governor is also pressing the Trump Administration and Congress to provide more direct support to the state and local governments, including municipalities.

Here is the full statement from Governor Janet Mills' representative, Lindsey Crete:

The Governor recognizes the critical role that municipalities play in providing vital services – from a high quality education in local schools, to public safety and emergency response, to road maintenance, among many others. That is why her Administration has worked in a bipartisan manner with the Legislature to significantly increase State government’s support for municipalities.

The State has received the $1.25 billion in funding through the CARES Act, which the U.S Treasury Department has said can only be spent on necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor is pressing the Trump Administration and Congress to provide more direct support to State and local governments, including municipalities, as well as added flexibility for the funding that has already been received. The Administration is awaiting action from Congress to adjust some components of the CARES Act and provide flexibility in terms of the timing and the way the funding can be spent. At that point, Governor Mills will consult with legislative leaders. In the meantime, the Administration continues to solicit feedback from all sectors of the state and will work collaboratively with local officials to assess the economic impacts of the pandemic and determine the most effective use of CARES Act funding.

Mills will be speaking at the daily Maine CDC press conference on Friday. 

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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