Hidalgo County Commissioners Court makes $63 million in Federal COVID-19 money Available to Local Municipalities

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L-R (top row): Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez; Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe M. Flores; Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ellie Torres; L-R (center row): Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney Chief-Civil Division Josephine Ramirez Solis; Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu; Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Commissioner David L. Fuentes, and bottom row Hidalgo County Executive Officer Valde Guerra.

Texas Border Business

The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday to make approximately $63 million in federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act available to reimburse the county’s 22 municipalities for COVID-19 related costs.

The money comes from $151 million that came directly to Hidalgo County from the CARES Act and is part of an overall $11.2 billion allocation made to the State of Texas under the federal relief law.

The money will be available on a reimbursement basis at a rate of $110 per capita to cities with a population of greater than 30,000 people. For smaller Hidalgo County municipalities, with populations of less than 30,000, the money will be made available at a rate of $80 per capita.

“This is a good allocation of the funds that we have that will go towards helping us during these difficult times,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said after the 4-to-1 vote. “We trust that the cities will do the right thing and use some of these monies as grants for small businesses as we would have done – and as we intend to do in rural parts of the county and small cities.”

Judge Cortez said much of the rest of the money that the county received will be directed toward countywide efforts to mitigate the impact of this strain of coronavirus. This includes providing funding for a testing laboratory, to buy personal protective equipment and for a forensic center.

Judge Cortez also noted the county is working with area school districts. “Our school districts, like our cities, are part of our community in Hidalgo County. It is our desire to help facilitate distance learning, which we learned was so important during this crisis.”

He also said Hidalgo County is developing a plan to provide stimulus grants for rural areas and smaller cities.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu made the motion for the reimbursement process and encouraged local municipalities to work with the county to develop budget proposals that would qualify for the type of reimbursement required under federal law.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ellie Torres encouraged municipalities to also apply to the state for more funding.

This is how funds were divided:

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