COVID-19 UPDATES FOR COUNTY OFFICIALS

As issues continue to develop and change at a quick rate with COVID-19, the Coronavirus, we at the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) are working alongside Governor Tony Evers, the Administration, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and our general counsel, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., (von Briesen) to provide the latest resources and updates to assist county officials during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Daily Update: 4.21.2020

April 21, 2020

COVID-19 DAILY HEALTH UPDATE
(Information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) current as of 1:00 p.m. Central, Tuesday, April 21, 2020)

Total people with negative results: 47,841 (+1,238)
Total people with positive results: 4,620 (+121)
Hospitalizations: 1,252 (+41) or 27%
Total deaths: 242 (+12)

ALERT: CONTACT GOVERNOR EVERS AND REQUEST ALLOCATION OF 30 PERCENT OF CARES ACT STATE FUNDING TO WISCONSIN COUNTIES
COVID-19 has impacted all 72 counties across Wisconsin. Counties are on the front lines of this virus providing public health services, as well as other essential functions of government including human services, court operations, emergency management, law enforcement, local jails, medical examiner offices, and much more.

Counties are facing immediate financial shortfalls, along with the many unknown future fiscal ramifications this virus will have on county budgets. As a result, the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) sent a letter to Governor Evers yesterday requesting counties be allocated 30 percent of federal funds received by the state through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Funds from the CARES Act, of which Wisconsin will receive an estimated $2.3 billion, are to be used for expenses incurred in response to the public health emergency between March 1 and December 31, 2020. However, WCA is working closely with NACo, the White House, and Congress to seek modifying language, permitting use of CARES Act funds for lost revenue (e.g., reductions in county sales or property taxes). It is WCA’s understanding that Governor Evers has sole discretion on the allocation of the funds; in other words, expenditure does not require legislative approval.

Consistent with congressional action, a portion of the $2.3 billion is expected to be distributed from U.S. Treasury directly to local governments with a population of 500,000 or more. This means only Dane County, the City of Milwaukee, and Milwaukee County (who will only receive a partial payment) will receive funds directly from the federal government. No other Wisconsin county is guaranteed any funding at this point.

WCA has requested the Governor, consistent with other states around the county, allocate 30 percent of the CARES Act funds to counties. These funds are vital to the continuation of county services across the state. Please contact Governor Evers today and request he allocate 30 percent of state funds received from the federal CARES Act to Wisconsin counties.  

Governor Tony Evers
608-266-1212
eversinfo@wisconsin.gov

SOCIAL MEDIA If you are on social media, we ask that you also post on the respective channels.

Sample Tweet:

  • Counties are facing immediate financial shortfalls and unknown future fiscal ramifications due to #COVID19. We respectfully ask @GovEvers to please allocate at least 30 percent of #CARESACT state funding to #WisCounties.

Sample Facebook Post: 

  • Wisconsin counties are facing immediate financial shortfalls and unknown future fiscal ramifications due to COVID19. We respectfully ask Governor Tony Evers to allocate at least 30 percent of CARES Act state funding to Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

MID-AMERICA STATES COLLABORATING ON COVID-19 TRANSPORTATION STRATEGIES
To keep the supply chain of critical goods and services intact during the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Officers (MAASTO) are coordinating strategies that will help the citizens of the central United States.

“Meeting the challenge of the pandemic will require that we can get vital goods like food and medical supplies where they are needed,” said MAASTO President Craig Thompson, who is secretary designee of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). “These supply chains don’t stop at state borders. We need to be working with other states, especially our neighbors in the middle of the country, to make sure we do what is needed to remove barriers that would impede response and recovery,” he said.

MAASTO member states are collaborating to: 

  • ​​Permit overweight freight shipments, making it easier to ship crucial supplies.
  • Ease regulations on Commercial Driver License holders, ensuring the maximum number of motor carrier drivers are available to move freight.
  • Limit public exposure at motor vehicle service centers. Many states are offering only limited in-person service and relaxing requirements for license and registration renewals to reduce the need for trips to the DMV. 
  • Issue guidance to contractors so construction projects can proceed while keeping workers safe.

TREASURER GODLEWSKI ADVOCATING FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, JOINS LETTER TO FEDERAL LEADERSHIP REGARDING STATE FINANCES AND COVID-19
Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, as a member of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST), has been advocating for local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. NAST has issued a letter to Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McCarthy regarding state finances and COVID-19.

ICYMI: SAMPLE RESOLUTION RELATED TO ACT 185: AUTHORIZING A TAXATION DISTRICT TO WAIVE INTEREST AND PENALTIES ON PROPERTY TAX PAYMENT INSTALLMENTS
The Wisconsin Counties Association and its general counsel, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., have received many questions surrounding Act 185 and property tax implications. Our general counsel has prepared this sample resolution related to this aspect of Act 185 based upon requests from our county membership.

This information should be reviewed carefully with corporation counsel to ensure county compliance with other applicable laws and regulations, including its own policies and procedures.