Kaptur, Brown, Joyce, Gonzalez Send Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging Secretary Mnuchin to Extend Direct Coronavirus Relief to Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency

April 23, 2020
Press Release
Department of Treasury approval would ensure a fair allocation of relief funds getting to Northeast Ohioans in Lorain, Geauga, Lake, and Medina Counties

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), joined by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), sent a letter to Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging the certification of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s (NOACA) request for direct federal funding from the Department of the Treasury through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The counties of Northeast Ohio, with the exception of Cuyahoga County, lack direct access to relief mechanisms enacted by the CARES Act. These counties include Geauga County, Lake County, Lorain County, and Medina County.

 

“I’m disappointed a provision restricting direct coronavirus relief funding for tightly-knit economic regions such as ours made its way into the CARES Act,” said Rep. Kaptur. “Many communities in Northern Ohio will not receive direct assistance through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and thus are faced with a decision to cut life-saving services while they wait for assistance. Providing support directly to these communities through NOACA will simplify and expedite the availability of funds. With unemployment drastically rising in the region, Northeastern Ohio needs a lifeline. We must ensure local governments and taxpayers in our region receive back a fair share of the tax dollars they have sent to Washington. I urge Secretary Mnuchin to grant NOACA’s important request.”

 

“We fought to secure direct assistance for Northeast Ohio,” said Senator Brown. “Local governments shouldn’t have to choose between tax hikes and laying off public safety officials like police officers, sheriffs and firefighters. I urge the Department of Treasury to quickly approve the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s request for direct federal assistance, so Northeast Ohioans can get the relief they need to remain safe and healthy during this time.”

 

"By extending CARES Act direct funding eligibility to NOACA, we could drastically improve Northeast Ohio's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Rep. Joyce. "Local governments are bearing a heavy burden with few resources to assist them as they struggle to help Americans through this crisis. By certifying NOACA to receive CARES Act funding directly, we can provide local governments in Northeast Ohio with their fair share of aid. We can and must ensure our communities receive the support they need to overcome this challenging time."

“NOACA appreciates this strong bipartisan support from our congressional delegation to ensure more funds under the federal CARES Act come directly to our region,” said Grace Gallucci, Executive Director of NOACA. “While we are pleased that Cuyahoga County can access funds directly due to its larger population, if we can also secure additional funds for NOACA’s other four counties – Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina – then that would be a win for all five counties in the region, allowing them to quickly and effectively respond to this pandemic.”

The text of the letter is available below and online here.

 

Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

 

Thank you for your engagement with the U.S Congress to provide critically needed economic stimulus during the ongoing COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. We write on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to support the certification of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) for the Coronavirus Relief Fund to receive direct federal assistance from the Department of the Treasury. As it stands now, the counties of Northeast Ohio, with the exception of Cuyahoga County, lack direct access to relief mechanisms enacted by the CARES Act. These counties include: Geauga County, Lake County, Lorain County, and Medina County.

 

As you know, the CARES Act (H.R. 748) contains a critical provision that will be used to assist state and local governments in their response to the crisis engulfing our nation. Indeed, local governments are bearing the heavy burden of response with dwindling resources while helping struggling Americans manage as best they can. As the entities closest to the ground, these local governments are on the front line of the fight, and we must ensure they have adequate funding in the face of dire budget shortfalls and increased expenditures.

 

Section 5001 of the CARES Act provides that Treasury will provide assistance directly, and not through the State intermediary to units of local government of more than 500,000 people. The provision, allows for a significantly broad definition of local governments and specifies that ‘‘[t]he term ‘unit of local government’ [includes] . . . other unit of general government below the State level with a population that exceeds 500,000.” Section 5001 explicitly allows any government that represents more than 500,000 and includes regional councils of government which are chartered under state law.

 

NOACA exists as an official unit of government under both federal law (23 U.S. Code § 134) and state law (Ohio Revised Code Sections 307.15 and 302.21). Under Ohio law, the boards of county commissioners of any two or more counties may “create any joint agency to exercise any power, perform any function, or render any service which any board of county commissioners may exercise, perform, or render.”

 

As such a local unit of government, NOACA encompasses more than 800,000 people in Geauga County, Lake County, Lorain County, and Medina County. As a unit of local and general government as envisioned by the statutes, NOACA plays a leading role in coordinating policy solutions to complex regional challenges, such as COVID-19. Direct eligibility would allow for more robust capacities to contain the virus at the crossroads of four major interstate highway corridors (Interstates 71, 77, 80, and 90), that would otherwise be left out of direct funding. For these reasons, extending eligibility to NOACA would improve economic recovery in this important region, while also boosting the public health responses of localities.

 

We fully support the effort by NOACA for certification and would appreciate your favorable consideration of its recent submission. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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kaptur.house.gov