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Tucson city council passes over $9M in funds for coronavirus relief

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Posted at 8:57 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 01:29:38-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and city council voted Tuesday to allocate millions of dollars for coronavirus relief.

In total, the city council approved more than $9 million in relief that will go to families, small businesses, and programs.

The first form of relief comes in direct payments to city employees who worked during the statewide “Stay Home” order.

“The total cost of this is right at about $1.6 million," explained City Manager Michael Ortega.

That $1.6 million will be distributed in one time payments to eligible employees. Those who worked at least half the time-on-site are considered Tier I employees and will receive $500. Those who were able to work mostly remotely are considered Tier II and will get $250.

“We have 4,500 employees about 70% to 75% will fall into Tier I-- plus or minus--and the remainder will be in that Tier II. So the Tier II- piece is, I'm going to estimate is less than 1,500 employees that's what I'm estimating,” explained Ortega.

That money is coming from the fund that already pays that employees' salary and the city won't be able to apply for federal aid to recoup those losses.

However, there is now more assistance in the form of grants coming from the CARES Act.

Mayor and council voted to broaden the grant programs by nearly $8 million.

Here's a break down of how that money will be distributed:

  • $3 million for rent and utility assistance
  • $2 million for workers and families
  • $2 million for small businesses
  • $500,000 for nonprofits
  • $350,000 will assist entertainment venues

"We are losing unemployment benefits that word that added additional money into the pockets of people that are not working. And, unfortunately, congress is not acting on a relief package," explained Mayor Regina Romero.

Council also voted to keep public transit free through the rest of the year.