Kaptur, Brown Urge Secretary Mnuchin to Extend Direct Coronavirus Relief to Toledo Metropolitan Area Based on its Population

April 22, 2020
Press Release
Toledo area lacks direct access to relief mechanisms enacted by the CARES Act. Department of Treasury approval would ensure a fair allocation of relief funds getting to Northwest Ohioans in Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Wood, and Fulton Counties

Toledo, OH – Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), sent a letter to Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging the certification of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments’ (TMACOG) request for direct federal funding from the Department of the Treasury through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Toledo and Lucas County is without direct access to relief funding enacted by the CARES Act, because it falls short of the 500,000 benchmark by just 70,000 residents under the existing formula. TMACOG represents more than 800,000, including residents of Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Wood, and Fulton counties in Ohio. The letter is available here.

 

“I am disappointed that President Trump and Senate Republicans forced a provision into the CARES Act that restricts direct coronavirus relief funding for tightly-knit economic regions such as ours,” said Rep. Kaptur. “President Trump kicked off his 2020 campaign in Toledo just a few months ago, where he made promises to help the people of and City of Toledo. And yet, Toledo and surrounding communities will not receive direct assistance through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and thus are faced with a decision to cut life-saving services. Congressional Democrats will continue to fight for more emergency funding directly for local governments based on population and need. But we need President Trump and Senate Republicans to come to the table. With unemployment drastically rising in the region, northwest Ohio needs a fair shake from the President and approval from the Treasury of our regional request and not more empty promises. We must ensure local governments and taxpayers in our region receive back a fair share of the tax dollars they have sent to Washington.”

 

“We fought to secure direct assistance for Northwest 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 Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments’ request for direct federal assistance, so Northwest Ohioans can get the relief they need to remain safe and healthy during this time.”

 

“TMACOG represents more than 800,000 people in six counties,” said Tim Brown, President of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. “We have the experience and the efficiencies to manage the program for governments in our region.”

 

“TMACOG's request to the U.S. Treasury to fund our region’s local governments is in response to the reality that smaller cities, villages, and townships within our counties are bearing huge burdens in the Covid-19 response,” said Mark Stahl, Chair of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments and Ottawa County Commissioner. “They deserve funding for their efforts on the frontline of public safety.”

 

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 to support the certification of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) for the Coronavirus Relief Fund to receive direct federal assistance from the Department of the Treasury. As it stands now, Toledo, Ohio is the only major Ohio city without direct access to relief mechanisms enacted by the CARES Act, falling short by merely 70,000 residents under the formula unless the SMSA is taken into account.

 

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.

 

In Ohio, Chapter 167 of the revised code provides broad authority for a regional council of government to act as a local unit of government, to plan, enter cooperative agreements related “to matters affecting health, safety, welfare, education, economic conditions, and regional development.” See Ohio Revised Code, Sec. 167.03.

 

As such a local unit of government, TMACOG encompasses more than 500,000 people in Lucas County (home to Toledo), as well as Ottawa, Sandusky, and Wood counties in Ohio. As a unit of local and general government as envisioned by the statute, TMACOG 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 strategic national transit center on the crossroads of two major interstate highway corridors (Interstates 75 and 80/90), that would otherwise be left out of direct funding. For these reasons, extending eligibility to TMACOG would improve economic recovery in this important region, while also boosting the public health responses of localities.

 

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

 

Sincerely,

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kaptur.house.gov