ARPA Funding: Eligible Uses, Tracking and Reporting
7:46PM Oct 21, 2021
you want it Chris This is Greg rouse Oh, I'm gonna pinch it for Sarah today. Okay,
Sarah Lawson on
Sara Lawson is on, um, Greg, are you gonna pinch it for me is there another Sarah.
No, um, it was for Sarah Peterson. Ah, okay, with a fan
on my screen Sarah Lawson you're showing up as me, although as your.
I got the show was going on there. All right. Hey, Chris, this is knows AML it's just the right slide we're not doing Cares Act today are we know we're doing ARPA so yeah, I can have, I have my PowerPoint I could put it up on my screen if you'd like. Oh no, I just want to make sure we got the right one. Thanks.
Hi. I just, I was just making sure I was just making sure it works. Thank you.
So we still have a few folks entering the meeting, let's just keep it open for a little bit before we begin, Chris.
Okay. Well welcome everybody, my name is Greg Roscoe and I'm part of the AFM Navigator Program. Today we're here for. One of the things that we've been doing on a weekly basis which is training. And this afternoon's training is a training on ARPA funding eligible uses tracking and reporting. I'll begin by introducing our main presenter and his colleagues. We have with us, Chris, Mr. Chris sloty who is a partner with the law firm of Fabi Williamson and Wyatt. Chris has been working in Alaska Native law for well over 15 years, he is responsible for handling complex litigation, working with Alaska Native corporations tribal governments and native organizations of all stripes. In addition, he's an experienced lawyer at transactional work, as well as government contracting, and all manner of business practice. Chris is very experienced and he brings with him a unusual resume because of his long tenure, working actually within a Alaska Native Corporation, very successfully. So with that, Chris, I'll turn it over to you.
Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you guys today about the American rescue plan X travel funds. Joining me is Sarah Lawson, who's one of our another attorney in the Schwabe Williamson office based out of Seattle. Sarah is an experienced transactional lawyer and represents a variety of different Alaska, or sorry, in on lower 48 tribes, including more recently we just got saw announced today, a transaction involving placement of an Amazon warehouse on Indian land to the great benefit of the local tribe in Seattle. So we're going to talk today about ARPA, and specifically kind of eligible uses and some of the compliance issues that arise out of it, so I'm going to put up on my screen,
that everybody can see that
looks good on this and press
OK. Thank you. Um, so we're going to talk about the
American rescue plan which was provided about $1.9 trillion to respond to COVID-19 and its impacts, it's passed on March 10 2021 and is different from the Cares Act funding
$20 billion dollars is provided for tribal governments with 1 billion allocated equally amongst all tribal governments and 19 billion kind of allocated based on category, or kind of criteria determined by the Secretary of note that this aqua funds of course is available only to tribal entities and Alaska Native corporations were specifically excluded from eligibility.
So the purpose of the COVID state fiscal Recovery Fund is to assist tribal governments to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the COVID 19 pandemic. It's administrated by the Treasury and they have guidance out there including an interim final rule, and a q&a on Treasury's website.
There are about five general categories of permissible use of arco funds. One the concept three occurred since March, 3 2021, and they have to be incurred on a public health emergency. Due to the pandemic, or the negative economic impacts of the pandemic that can include assistance to households small businesses, nonprofits are impacted industries. You can use ARPA funds to provide premium pay to workers performing essential work during the COVID 19 pandemic. You could provide us ARPA funds to provide government services, to the extent that you've had a reduction in revenue due to the COVID 19 pandemic, and you can use Uber funds and water Seward and broadband infrastructure.
So the first category of use, we're gonna talk about is permissible use of the public, public health emergency.
Generally, eligible users under this category must respond to COVID That must be spent on responding to COVID-19 or harmful consequences resulting from COVID-19 or addressing economic harm resulting from COVID-19. It's a very broad category, and it's generally a little bit broader than the Cares Act funds that you may be already familiar with. The general rule is that you need to identify a need or negative impact of COVID-19, and then how the proposed travel program will address that identified need or impact.
here a list of a non exclusive list of permissible uses that were identified by Treasury and its guidance. They include vaccination sites and supplies medical clinics, temporary medical facilities COVID-19 testing and contact tracing telemedicine infrastructure ventilation improvements, mental health and substance abuse misuse treatment payroll for Tribal Employees responding to COVID-19 and vaccine incentive programs, this list and this are indicative of the very broad nature of the funds of the uses for which you could use put towards you can use our funds on specifically for example ventilation improvements in infrastructure and public facilities is very broadly defined. And similarly, I'd also point out you can use it for mental health and substance abuse, substance misuse treatment for your tribal population. What's really interesting and I think potentially very helpful for tribal tribal for tribal governments, is that for tribal governments Treasury has identified additional uses of the Aqua funds that are kind of presumed eligible uses, and they include community health services, public benefits navigators which is hiring people to help your tribal members navigate social welfare benefit programs. But most importantly, tribes essentially have almost carte blanche use of the ARPA funds for housing infrastructure and affordable housing efforts. Whereas before, the Cares Act, you can only use cares like funds for maybe like temporary quarantine housing, etc. Under for ARPA funds you have much broader scope in which you can use those funds including using them to provide housing assistance programs to building an owning, housing, affordable housing. The key is if you're expanding the availability of affordable housing, it's probably going to be an eligible ARPA fund or expense. Here's an example of that, that includes, you know, development of affordable housing to increase the supply of housing assistance programs for individuals to assist those individuals who are homeless, including housing vouchers and assistance relocating to neighborhoods with, with higher levels of economic opportunity.
You could also use the use that the funds for to address educational disparities disparities exacerbated by COVID-19. That includes sexually increasing resources for high poverty school districts, educational service like tutoring or after school programs, so essentially being able to use ARPA funds to increase the educational opportunities for your tribal members and their children. You could also use ARPA funds to provoke would they would they be described as promoting healthy childhood environments including providing for childcare, enhanced services for child welfare involving families and foster youth, again a very broad scope of eligible uses that are now available to tribes under.
Oh, I'm going to talk about the the next category of use of permissible use and that's negative economic impacts. So our tribal funds can be used to address economic harm, resulting from or made worse by COVID. The general rule is you need to ask sort of two questions. Has there been any economic loss or harm due to COVID and with the proposed benefit or expenditure address that harm. This is assistance to aid or individuals or businesses that did not experience a negative economic impact from the public health emergency, and it would not be an eligible use some of that category. So next one.
So this is a proportional response, there can be no excessive benefits. Benefits expenditures must be related to and reasonable reasonably proportional to the extent and type of harm that's experienced benefits and expenditures that aren't related, or that are grossly disproportionate to the type or extent of harm experienced are ineligible, and may have to be repaid to Treasury. Again, there's a non exclusive use of permissible uses here are lists sorry of permissible uses. Those include cash payments to tribal members rent and mortgage assistance, utility assistance, including past due amounts, local store credit for tribal members to buy food peepee and cleaning supplies, and death benefits for tribal members who have lost someone due to COVID-19 such as funeral expenses. This can also be cash payments so tribal entities may presume that a household or population that experienced unemployment or increased food or housing insecurity or is lower moderate income experienced negative economic impacts resulting from the pandemic tribal entities can then adopt a financial assistance program that provides assistance to all members of that community without a showing of individualized need.
And I think what this is getting at under our PA though it's a little bit on a little bit, kind of, This is a little bit vague vague vague, is that the type of application that you would typically that you would have required to obtain Cares Act as financial assistance may be simplified. When providing fund assistance using arco funds, Because you're able to make more presumptions, without having to kind of try to show up and individualize need. So I think it just gives you a little bit more flexibility in structuring a financial assistance payment without necessarily having to jump through all the hoops that ANC and agencies and tribes had to do so when trying to provide direct financial assistance using care cyclins.
Chris, you want to take this one.
Sure, so some of the examples that this is specifically from Treasury that they gave of kind of financial assistance which would be an Internet access program for all lower and moderate income households. So, it, if you had that type of program you would not have to have those households demonstrate that they suffered a negative economic impact or from COVID-19. Apart from being lower moderate income so essentially, for this type of application. Again, unlike the Cares Act in which you'd have to ask them to say to certify that they suffered at least x amount of harm because of COVID, 19, or negative impacts, they could just say are you in this, are you a low or moderate income household. Yes, all right you are therefore eligible for this assistance. So again it's just kind of example the much kind of broader and simpler financial assistance programs that can be developed under.
You can also use ARPA funds to provide small business grants and loans that are predefined small businesses being not more than 500 employees or the size standards that is adopted by the SBA for their NAICS code in providing grants or loans to a small business, they should only be provided those were negatively impacted by COVID-19 critically here, as defined by criteria adopted by the tribe. So, some are the Cares Act assistance that you could have provided could have provided you, small businesses will need to certify that they've been negatively impacted by COVID-19. However, the tribe can define what does that mean, and to what extent and what will be required for that certification. So you can say, did you have a lost revenue due to COVID-19 Did you have these types of expenses due to COVID-19 you have much more kind of discretion in adopting that criteria as the bit to provide the basis for who you're going to provide small business grants and loans, using arco funds. So it's a broader scope that is permissible under the cursor. The types of small business loans, but what, what can they be used for while they can be used to mitigate financial hardships, which is declines in revenues and similar the Cares Act, you could provide them loans to implement COVID-19 mitigation taxes. Tax tactics, and you know improvements and modifications and renovations to permit them to better address the COVID 19 pandemic and future pandemics as well. You could also provide technical assistance and counseling regarding business planning needs to address both potential negative impacts from the existing pandemic, and also future business needs.
And one thing you'd want to do there is make sure that you maintain records to support the assessment of how a business or business districts are receiving assistance that were affected, just so that you know, adequate record keeping in case the federal government comes back and asks what the funds were used for. There's, there's good records that support the use of the funds.
You could also use the Cares Act, or sorry the ARPA funds to rehire tribal employees to essentially for those employees you had to let go or layoff or furlough due to COVID-19 or for any reason, you can use the ARRA funds to replace to return those employees or other other individuals to employment with by the tribe, so that your employment levels are equal to the levels they were on at least January 27 to 2020. And for any employees hired at pursuant to this you can use the ARRA funds to pay the tribal employees wages and benefits.
Right and those benefits can include but are not limited to the costs and the type of leaves such as family vacation related leave employee insurance, retirement, unemployment benefit plans, workers compensation insurance and Federal Insurance contribution act taxes.
You can use cares at your sorry ARPA e by saying here Zack apologize can use ARPA funds to provide hospitality, tourism, hospitality, which is essentially some substance subsidization and support for your tourism and hospitality industries, either that you own or that are in your area, or really anyone that you want to assist, including helping them address COVID-19 mitigation measures such as improvements to ventilation physical barriers etc signage masterpiece similar the similar expenses that you couldn't use Cares Act funds. You could also use ARPA funds to help those tourism and hospitality industries, kind of weather the continued impacts of the pandemic. You generally cannot use ARPA funds for general economic development or workforce development, and you also have to generally demonstrate that funds are spent to address a negative economic impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, although as we noted before Treasury has identified certain areas that are kind of presumed to respond to that, which include support for low or moderate income households fordable housing and housing assistance
is a general infrastructure project but typically not be considered a response to the public health emergency, but there is broad discretion that has been given to tribal governments, under these funds provided that the government can provide, Or can show some sort of connection between the project and COVID-19. So some ideas there are runway improvements housing or medical clinics.
I do think that the connection under ARPA is a little bit broader than the connection with regard to the Cures Act, Because it's directly addressing a negative impact as opposed to necessary because of the pandemic, although that's maybe a slight technical difference I do think that there. The intent was to provide broader flexibility for use of our phones.
Alright so, another permissible use for the next permissible use is essential work and premium pay. So premium pay as tribal governments can provide premium pay including back premium pay to eligible employees of either the tribe or third party employers premium Kate pay can be up to an additional $13 per hour, with a maximum of $25,000 per employee, and it can be retroactive premium pay. And the idea is to compensate at risk employees with what is in effect, you know danger pay any third party employers of essential workers are eligible, the third party contractors who employ essential workers in eligible sectors are also eligible for grants for premium pay a selection of third party employers and contractors who receive grants at the discretion of recipients to ensure any grants, respond to the needs of essential workers and are made in a fair and transparent manner. The rule imposes some additional reporting requirements for grants to third party employers, including the public disclosure of any grants that are provided. So eligible employees are those who are regular who regularly interact with the public, or regularly handle items handled by the public, or co workers. So that would be health care workers maintenance workers grocery store workers, teachers hotel workers in any additional sectors as each tribal government may designate as official to protect the health and well being. I'm sorry it's critical to protect the health and well being of the residents of their tribal government. This actually does not include people who are working from home. So, employees who have been working from home are not eligible for premium pay,
in my view, given the broad kind of definition of what is an eligible employee. Essentially those employees are working from home are probably the only employees that a tribe could not make eligible for, if they wanted to to make eligible for premium pay
premium pay so if the pay would be increased to more than 150% of the state's average annual wage for all occupations which in Alaska is $61,000, the tribe must provide written justification. If, if, yeah, sorry, go ahead, Chris, you're on take the next slide.
Sure, so the next general category is a we just had a question in the chat, premium pay only. I'm not sure if you're talking about two tribal members, which for premium pay premium pay would be for employees of the tribe or employees of third parties, if you're talking about providing financial assistance. It is up to the tribe if they want to limit the financial assistance that they, that they provide to tribal members, or if they want to make it more broadly available to say for example, everybody in a specific community, that kind of eligibility is going to be up to the tribe. So the next broad category talk about is infrastructure use. So generally you can use ARPA funds on infrastructure projects that are focused on water and wastewater treatment projects that are eligible to receive financial assistance through the EPA. Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. So again this is a much broader use permissible use of ARPA funds, then you could under the Cares Act, because you're presumed to be able to use ARPA funds for these Clean Water Act or these water and water treated projects, even if it's not specifically to respond to COVID-19. What are the type of projects included under those categories well they're pretty broad categories and you can look online to find more specific information, but generally speaking it includes water treatment and distribution systems drinking water infrastructure replacement of lead service lines, wastewater treatment facilities, and even those kind of ancillary projects that you need to support and protect your water treatment and what wastewater systems, cleaning cybersecurity needs and pro power, power projects and roads for water projects on a pro rata basis. Now what that means is that let's say you're building a water project, a water, water treatment plant, and you need to build a road to be able to have access to where you're going to construct the water trigger pump. Well, to the extent that that road is used to support the watershed plan, you can kind of pay for the pay for that road using ARPA funds. And if it's the road is only going to be used for the water treatment plant and not for any other purpose then it'd be 100% pay but you're gonna pay 100% of the cost of that road using ARPA funds if let's say you're renovating a water project and you're building a road but the road will also support kind of an adjacent project or adjacent housing project. Well then a proportional cost of that road could be paid for using our class. You could also use ARPA funds for broadband to provide to basically enhance Internet access to undeserved areas, which are defined by Treasury as areas that don't have minimum speeds of 25 megabytes per second download and three megabytes per second upload. Now when we first came out, and at least this is the UN a statute, stated that you can use ARPA funds for broadband, I was really excited for Alaska because I know a lot of remote, what areas in Alaska have significant connect connectivity issues. However, when the final rule came out, and as as Treasury kind of impose some restrictions on this that I think are very difficult for Alaska. Under Treasury's rules, you can use target funds for broadband infrastructure but the infrastructure that you build must be able to provide 100 megabytes per second download and 20 megabytes per second upload as a minimum. And actually that's only permissible in areas where geography topography or financial costs, makes it infeasible to have upload speeds of 100 megabytes per second. Frankly, this is going to be very hard to meet in a lot of areas of Alaska. I for example, I live in Palmer, I can't get faster than 20 megabytes per second download at my house, and I'm not in I'm not in a tribal village. So, this is a very unfortunate kind of result, we're hopeful that it will change at some point. But just be aware that if you're going to use broad grant funds ARPA funds on broadband infrastructure, you are going to be subject to kind of this relatively significant capacity requirement.
Generally, you cannot use Oh, sorry, sorry, go ahead. Oh, generally you cannot use arco funds that we talked about before, general infrastructure projects, other than ones we've already talked about the waste and water, the water and wastewater and the broadband, that do not address a specific pandemic public health need or specific negative economic impact. You cannot use ARPA funds to make contributions to rainy day funds financial reserves or Sermo funds to pay down principal, interest or principal on debt or to satisfy a settlement agreement or judgment. So while the funds are there is a broad broader categories of use of the funds that are under the Cares Act, it is not unlimited. The next category is tribal revenue loss, which, which is going to be potentially available for Alaska tribes, but generally I don't I've generally seen that this is not a significant use of ARPA funds generally tribal governments may use ARPA funds to provide government services kind of unrestricted funds to use the funds without any restrictions to the extent that those funds are reduced replacing revenue loss due to COVID-19. Now, they Treasury adopted this relatively complex looking equation to determine how much revenue loss you actually did suffer to COVID-19, but it's really at the end of day it's relatively simple, what's your what's your basic point is, you have to examine determine if your revenue in the past prior 12 months is equal to or less than what it would, what your projected revenue would have been for that same period, based on your revenue that your revenue in the year before 2020 ie the year before the pandemic, broadly speaking, what Ark was saying is that well, tribes, you look at your revenue now compared to what what it would have been had there not been a pandemic, and your revenue would have been if there any and Treasury has said that your revenue to determine what your revenue would have been were not for the pandemic you look at your revenue in 2019 and increase it by the greater of either 4.1% per year, or your average actual yearly increase in revenue based on 2017 2018 and 2019. And if your projected revenue kind of this artificially increased revenue would have exceeded your actual revenue. The difference is the lost revenue that you can use arco funds to replace. I would note that, you know, it's again it's a relatively complex kind of calculation, but the Municipal League on their Alaska ARPA page has a very, very helpful and useful calculator that you could use to estimate and determine your revenue loss and determine the amount of ARPA funds you could use, kind of, as unrestricted to account for that revenue loss. And here's, there's the website and then there's our there's a worksheet, and that in either Google Sheet or Excel with a very helpful explanation.
So the general revenue definition is that all revenue is all revenue from whatever source including tribal businesses is included when calculating revenue. Only exclusions from revenue, our refunds and other correcting transactions proceeds from issuance of debt or the sale of investments, intergovernmental transfers from the federal government including transfers made pursuant to art and utility revenues, revenue is calculated on an entity wide basis and not source by source. And I should note that Cares Act funds are actually excluded from the definition of revenue, a permissible uses of art funds that are replacing tribal revenue, our infrastructure including road maintenance and construction. Modernization of cybersecurity including hardware, software, and in protection of critical infrastructure, health services, environmental remediation school or educational services and provision of police, fire and other public safety services.
I would note that this is, This kind of list here and you can see how, when they drafted ARPA and when the guidance came out from from ARPA, they really were not looking at right tribal tribal entities in Alaska. They're this these were more focused on lower 48 tribes that are located on reservations and have their own kind of internal governmental structure, whereas some of these issues here are simply not within the ambit or capability of Alaska tribes, such as the provision of police, fire and other public safety services, but very, some of them are, they are very broad so infrastructure including road maintenance and destruction, that is, those are benefits and assistance that a tribe could provide to his local village or to others using arco funds. Similarly for health services environmental remediation and providing grants and support to local schools and educational services.
Alright so impermissible uses impermissible uses include debt payments. Payment of judgment or settlement agreements and funding any tax cuts that may have happened, so can't use it to cover any, any
debt that was already out there that the tribe was already on the hook for right Chris you want to go ahead and kick this
yep so the timeline for the use of funds is also very much more, much more favorable than the timeline provided for by the Cares Act for ARPA funds, you can only use the funds for the use the funds for the period of March 3 2021 and ending on December 3 31st 2024 So from today usage, a little over a little more than three years to use the funds are actually to obligate the funds, and then you actually have to. And when they mean by obligated to fund, or sorry when, When they mean that you would cover costs incurred through December 31 2024 What they mean is you have to obligate the funds by December 31 2024, which means you sign the contract to spend the money, but you don't actually, you don't actually have to spend the funds until December 31 2026 So this means let's say you have a construction project, you could sign a construction, construction contract to 2024 that provides for a year long period of construction, and then make payments in 25 and 26 2025 and 2026 using ARPA funds and that's permissible. So really you just need to have a kind of a contract in which you are obligated or are contractually agreed to spend the money by 2024 and I've actually had that check out the door so to speak, by 2026. Any funds that you don't spend are not outside the door or by 2026 are not obligated by 2024, by the end of 2024. You do have to return to Treasury. Now one thing I'd like to bring up which is very new, because it's just passed on Tuesday of this week. So on Tuesday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 3011 By unanimous unanimous consent. This is an interesting bill because it extends the deadline for tribes and agencies to use their Cares Act funds to December 31 2022. We're also still waiting on House passes so that's just one kind of general update for any AMC or tribal entities on the on the on the line that have still have cares like funds is that if this Senate Bill 33 011 is passed by the House, and then signed by President Biden, you're going to have until the end of next year, the end of 2022 to spend your cares icon so we're following this closely, and I'll try to give updates to everybody as quick as we can as we see it go through Congress. We're very hopeful now that this will get passed before the end of the year. It is, as I said passed by unanimous consent through the Senate. So now it's in front of the house on waiting their consideration. However, Senate Bill 3011, that's not the only thing it does, it also essentially amends ARPA, in a couple of different ways, primarily. It amends ARPA to state that tribal entities can use their ARPA funds to provide what they call, quote, government services, up to the greater of their actual revenue loss as determined by the Treasury's guidance that calculation we went through a little bit ago, or $10 million. So if you had revenue loss. If you received the ARPA funds of less than $10 million. And this bill the Senate Bill 3011 gets passed, you are going to be able to use your entire ARPA allocation kind of for unrestricted purposes because it's going to be less than $10 million. And so long as you're spending up to ARPA funds up to $10 million. You can use it for any general purposes. Now I would note that the proposed amendment says that you can use these ARPA funds that are less than up to $10 million for critical government services, and there may be some guidance from Treasury that kind of potentially redefines what that means and may limit it, but at least initially, my initial view is that passage of this Senate Bill 301 will also greatly expand the use of ARPA funds, beyond what was already a relatively broad category of eligible uses. Senate Bill 30 311, in addition to that kind of government services, Ross revenue change also says that you'll be able to use ARPA funds, kind of, and without any restrictions to provide emergency relief from natural disasters and the effects they're from, including temporary emergency housing, food assistance, financial assistance for lost wages, etc. So essentially if you're in a community that is something that is the kind of victim of a natural disaster or the effects there from, you'll be able to use ARPA funds to respond to that kind of without restriction. And finally, they include a much longer list of permissible road highway bridge and other infrastructure projects that are going are going to be deemed eligible uses of ARPA funds. Okay, so I think Senate Bill 301 is going to be is a very important legislative legislation, it's now in front of the house. We're gonna be following it closely, and we think that if it passes our kind of initial analysis, again it's only been a couple days, because it was presented was kind of submitted and approved and passed by unanimous consent on the same day, it will stop some further analysis that will try to get out to the group if we find anything new, but we do see it as a initially as a positive bill that we think will will provide greater flexibility to Alaska Native corporations and Alaska tribal entities.
So, one, so I think we're got about 30 minutes left so I wanted to take, we could take this opportunity have some questions but also there was a couple prior issues that I wanted to bring up to one is this issue of coordination, and I think I talked a little bit about this on our past presentation, and I talked a little bit about yesterday if you were able to attend the Alaska Native law conference. So Cares Act funds have much kind of a relatively strict regime of what you can use the funds for ARPA funds as we've talked about has much broader scope, but we have about Alaska Native corporations and tribes, about two months or two half months or so to use up their cares like funds. And I think in these next two months, as you're identifying projects, both that you may use for Aqua funds or Cares Act funds, one valuable consideration is to say, Well, alright, I have this project I can complete it by the end of the year. Can I use cares ACH funds or can I get access to cares like funds from perhaps an AMC that you're affiliated with, that can be used to fund that such that I won't have to use ARPA funds in that project, and instead I could use arco funds on these broader broader scopes that maybe have more long term impact or a longer runway. So again, I just think it's urged people to kind of take a little bit of a strategic approach. In examining the different funding sources you have available, and try to identify what is the best use of the funds, you know, again taking the funds are going to expire the quickest, or most restricted using those funds up and freeing up your grant or ARPA funds for other purposes. Another thing I wanted to address was on the direct financial assistance using ARPA funds. So, unlike Cares Act funds for the direct financial assistance Treasury did provide a little bit of guidance to tribes for determining how much support, can you provide using ARPA funds, you know what is too much. What is like Sarah Sarah talked about earlier in our presentation. Your financial assistance has to be reasonably proportional it can't be grossly disproportionate. Well what does that mean, well, Treasury has said you can look to the different Cares Act assistance programs that have been passed and enacted by Congress and the financial payments that were provided to individuals as a result. So that's like the 14 $100 stimulus payment, a $600 payment you know those various kind of social welfare payments that came out of the Cares Act and ARPA that you can use those as an example for the type of financial assistance that you can provide to your tribal members using ARPA funds.
In terms of what infrastructure include electrical utilities since having reliable power is important to be able to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic. That's a difficult question and it's going to be a little bit specific to your situation. In general, the Treasury guidance says you cannot use ARPA funds for general infrastructure projects, but you can use ARPA funds to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic. For kind of that are directly responding. So to the question you can say, we're going to build this power plant or expand this electrical utility, and it's directly responding to COVID because of x y and z. I think there's an argument to be made there, but it's going to be going to be kind of specific to your situation, specific to your kind of surrounding facts. It's an area where I would not say that there is a red line that says nope you can't do it at all. I think it's a, maybe, and it's dependent on kind of what's your specific situation. What's the specific situation of the village of the community, and how are you going to using that that electric utilities.
The question is the kind of follow up as an example would be to help pay for repairs to existing generators. I think for that. Because you're not building like a new infrastructure project, you're not building a new important new contract new power plant, you're repairing existing generators, I think that's much more within the realm of yes that's responsible to ARPA, particularly if you can make the argument that these generators are supporting you know this particular in this particular kind of service, you know, the, the health, the health clinic or the tribal offices, or you can kind of identify what, what specific thing is that the generator is is protecting or supplying power to.
I think we saw someone raise their hand
if I can maybe add Joy Anderson has their hand raised.
Hi, good afternoon. First of all, thank you very much for the presentation, very interesting information. I have a couple questions. One, just to be clear, this is about the ARPA Treasury funding, so is anything that you're saying about eligible uses. Can that be, can that inform what might be eligible expenditures for ba ARPA phones or would that just be a completely separate conversation.
So, this is focused on Treasury ARPA funds. It's not specific to bi, bi a ARPA funds which are I think under some different programs. So I think I would want to look at the specific program that you're referring to and kind of examine that before, be able to answer your question. Okay.
And second question, thank you. Second question. A lot of questions that we're getting from tribes are related to. Can we use ARPA funding to either completely replace tribal office building, for example, some offices have, you know, burned down completely, or make major repairs, and I understand it has to be tied to some type of COVID response but can you give an example of where that kind of project might be permissible what kind of COVID response might relate to, you know, building a new council office building.
So, for I think you could categorize it and under the Public Health Emergency kind of response I think would be the were the way to go with that, let's say for example you have a tribal offices and you have kind of kind of small cramped offices narrow hallways, and probably not very good ventilation. So I think that have been able to, you can probably use the ARPA funds, semi structured correctly and documented correctly to renovate your tribal offices to prevent better social distancing to provide for better ventilation to improve your kind of infrastructure department better working from home or you know kind of different shifts working, I think there's definitely for renovation projects where you can point to Hey, By doing this, people gonna be able to separate it out more, they're gonna have a better access to, you know, cleaning supplies or, you know, again like I said better ventilation which oftentimes would require a pretty significant remodel that you can capture a lot of other things that you want to do. I think those are the type of expenses that are probably permissible and try to think creatively along those rounds, those grounds.
Okay, so I guess maybe. Similarly, if because a council building has been destroyed, for whatever reason, and those employees are having to work out of another building, which causes it to be overcrowded and there's not social distance. Okay, thank you that's really helpful.
Yeah, and there was a question about a new laundromat. And I think it's kind of falling up, But what a laundromat or shower be eligible for example let's say a laundromat is deteriorating and we need a new facility for residents to wash their clothes, and I see an answer from answer from knows that AML has connected the dots between electric utilities, and anything water sewer and sanitation such that it would seem like that'd be an eligible laundromat would fall within that category, I would generally agree. I mean, the water and sewer and sanitation kind of eligible uses under are but very broadly defined, and so I think that there's definitely an argument and a position to be taken or that that would be an eligible use in addition to, you know, addressing the COVID, you know, you could also choose to include under the Public Health, responding to public health concerns of COVID-19 by permitting better sanitation etc. I think there's a couple different avenues that you could approach.
And from my point of view, I really do think that one of the most kind of broad categories that you can use our pythons and we talked about a little bit before, is on this affordable housing issue because it is very broad in terms of providing both housing assistance, but also building an operating housing assistance. Because I think you know again a lot in a lot of communities and in Anchorage and elsewhere, there's a significant homelessness issue that that has arisen, and there's a lot of different entities that are trying to address it. And this is a way that you can kind of coordinate and consolidate with other tribal entities with nonprofits with your local borough your local city, etc. And I tried to combine your various ARPA funds and other funding sources to really respond to the homelessness issue.
So I think there was another question about does that include offering electric utilities water sewer assistance directly to tribal members. And is this a question of providing kind of like vouchers or kind of assistance in making payments. That is a permissible use provided that they have kind of the financial need for it. And you can, and then fall within that kind of a low or moderate income households. So I think that you'd be able to use Arbic funds to provide that type of utility assistance. If you're talking about building utilities or extending water or sewer treatment, water, sewer lines to specific households or specific communities. I think that again, that would also probably covered under the to the public health emergency needs or the, the water or wastewater project eligibility. We had another question about schools asking for better social distancing and ventilation of Headstart classrooms. And the issue there I think as nails identified is that for schools essentially if there's, if it's kind of complicated but essentially if the schools have the way I read it if schools have accepted some type of COVID-19 assistance, then there's a pretend they don't really can't get any more than that, other than up to $500 per student presumption, essentially can give them $500 per student, or give them benefits equal to $500 per student. And my understanding that is in the treasury fac that is specific to our GPA and response to choice question
is differ. Can I follow up on that question right quick. Okay, some of our. Sorry, my microwave. Some of our tribes have Headstart programs in their villages, and in the Headstart programs might be using a tribal building etc. So the so the program isn't really provided by the tribes so they wouldn't have gotten money from VIP or from like a school system. So, the tribe potentially build or renovate a building that they are letting a headstart program be operated out of, um, and, and I don't think they would have received money you know as a school since they're right.
No, I think that, so I mean, if it's the tribe that if it's a tribe and it's not a school district, I think it's kind of a different tribe, it's just a tribe, and it's providing the health Headstart type of support, one of the eligible uses is what they say, promoting healthy childhood environments including childcare home visiting programs and enhanced services for child welfare involved families and foster youth, so I think that, and also providing educational kind of also providing early learning services including resources for schools and tutoring and etc. So I think using ARPA funds to build or renovate a facility to provide kind of after school or before school educational support for us. What the $500 per student thing issue has come up is when you're trying to provide assistance for example to a specific school or a school district, it's not a restriction on what you have to try to do to do for your own kind of independent educational programs.
In terms of reporting and compliance, which we haven't really gotten very much into, it's going to be similar for ACO funds, it's going to be similar to the Cares Act and that you do not need to have Treasury kind of pre approval before spending your ARPA funds, but you're gonna have to report to Treasury how you do spend them, and then potentially be subject to, as we said before the Single Audit Act, potentially subject to Treasury audit to the expense you, to the extent you incur funds to pay for that audit to pay for legal advice to pay for accounting advice to pay for additional staff members or administrative efforts to respond to implement the ARPA funds. Those are all generally going to be eligible expenditures that you can use to pay for ARPA funds. Similarly, if you're going to give money to a nonprofit to use to develop to set up a new project. Just as is the case under the Cares Act, when you give that money to that nonprofit you're going to want to have a grant agreement in place because they're going to treat it as a sub recipient, they're going to be kind of administering your funds on your behalf, and you will remain ultimately responsible for their proper use of it. So you're going to want to develop kind of protections in that grant agreement whereby you require them to comply with federal law you require them to make certain reports back to you, and you have essentially what I would call a clawback provision that lets you take the money back if it turns out they're not using it for an eligible purpose. So I think the kind of the Compliance Act issues in terms of documenting the use of the funds, having internal documentation, making sure that you're, you're giving grants that are subject to these requirements when you're providing financial aid, making sure that you kind of, check the box the appropriate boxes under Arbo for when who you can get financial aid to are all continued to be required and necessary just as they were under the Cares Act.
Question about what I give a general rule of thumb to those families that have dual households dual tribal member households. Well, so, if you're talking about like direct financial assistance. There's kind of two different issues here. One, the tribe. I mean, under ARPA you can provide assistance to someone and kind of alone. You provide assistance to kind of categories of folks to everybody falls within that category, without making it individualized determination of me. So if you may say make a decision. Alright, we want to provide utility assistance for all low and low and moderate income households in this community. Well, you can say, you can just make that determination and provide it to everybody in that one, even if they're also receiving benefits for maybe a different tribe. So in a dually truck dual membership issue. If you're providing direct cash assistance. It may be the situation where somewhere to the Cares Act, you're going to need them to certify that hey, I need this cash assistance because of these expenses or because of this impacts, and I'm not already being reimbursed for those same expenses or impacts from this other tribal member. So remember under the Cares Act you know double dipping. You can't someone can't have suffered $1,000 of COVID-19 losses, recover that from their village corporation and the turnaround recovered an additional $1,000 for that same loss from their regional corporation that is generally going to be the case for ARPA as well. However ARPA is a little bit broader because you can provide these kind of financial assistance programs that are based on categories rather than individualized needs, but when you get to the point of, I want to give $1,000 in cash directly to Person X, you're probably going to want to have a similar process that you adopted for Cares Act where and you're making sure that they suffered actually suffered that harm, and that they have not, and they're not kind of double dipping and getting money from two different entities, for the same harm. And finally, as in the Cares Act, if you get that written certification from them. I am not seeing that there's kind of a due diligence requirement where you need to go investigate their application and double check with your other tribe to see if they did or not actually received these other funds and to a large degree, you can rely upon their certification and so as long as you have a robust enough application
So the question comes up for this direct financial assistance, financial assistance but can it be $1,000 loss from x and $1,000 loss from y so not double dipping. Absolutely. Just as under the Cares Act I think that if you, you kind of, they need to look at their aggregate losses. So let's say they suffered, let's say they suffered an aggregate total of $5,000 of COVID-19 related losses since March of 2021. Okay, so they suffered $5,000 Less since March of 2021 Well, they can get $1,000 from this tribe, they get $1,000 from that tribe, get $500 from that Native Corporation, and $1,000 from that regional corporation. So that adds up to 30 $500, but it still doesn't meet or exceed their actual loss which is $5,000, so there has been no double dipping.
All right. Does anybody else have any more questions or any issues, anybody would like to raise. Chris, this is no sir, I just want to make sure everybody understands that the, the reporting deadlines have been pushed back to April, is that clear for everybody, or do you have any more information on that. Um, no other than, I think, is what he's saying is yes they've given everybody kind of all the tribal entities more time to submit their initial reports, and they just keep on kind of checking in with EIA or their website and we'll continue to try to provide updates as well as that process goes on because it continues to seek to evolve over time as similarly, the Treasury continues to come out with new guidance specifically on its Frequently Asked Questions page it's kind of regularly updated it to provide new guidance as new issues arise, and we will, we are continuing to track that and as we see something material if something material change, changes we'll certainly do our best to kind of get the word out. But going back to the Treasury website every once in a while or as you're kind of envisioning a specific use of your Aqua funds, it's worthwhile checking in and saying, Hey Have things changed. Have they clarified have they added new a new question and answer that maybe address your specific situation and your specific potential use. Just make sure I'm I'm actually I'll share my screen and I'll show you the exact website I'm looking at for this.
So I have a question. Yes. So if there are a whole host holds from two different tribes. And then they both get funding for a third amount to help with the household expenses that affect, then with our individual who are on our cable numbers.
I think the question was if a spouse gets assistance from somebody else would that affect the member of the tribe who maybe are maybe seeking assistance from their individual tribe. I think as we mentioned before, I don't think it would it would kind of depend on the type of program that you're developing the type of financial assistance program you're developing, but generally no so long as, kind of in the aggregate their negative kind of impacts from COVID exceed the total amount of support they're getting from both entities. So I generally say No, as long as that is true. In regards to there's
supposed to evoke a certain amount of funding. When for housing in the media, there would be for local utility.
So I mean if no I don't think that would necessarily impact it again it's a little bit dependent on the specific program, but if you're driving. But if your drive is providing kind of financial assistance for housing or utility payments, you can do so to try to do so based on if someone in a lower moderate income household for example, and then just provide that assistance to them without any more determination of individualized deed. So that kind of when you get beyond that I think when you get to kind of direct cash payments that you need to look at individualize need to a degree, which may or may be impacted if they've already seen funds from other sources. Okay. We had a quick question for building improvements tied to COVID between the tribe need to own the building, not necessarily if let's say the local city owns the building or a local entity owns the building, and you want to fund fund improvements. You could do so through essentially a grant agreement to give them funds to say hey go out and renovate this buildings provide these COVID-19 mitigation measures, or in response to this type of COVID-19 issue. Tribal ownership of the building is not a requirement.
And then one last thing I think we're getting towards the end but I just wanted to put up the Treasury's website, I can. Sorry my computer's acting very slow.
So this is the US Department of Treasury website for the Coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds for tribal governments, and it has some background on eligible uses. And what's really important here is that at the bottom. And as recipient compliance and reporting. And then at the bottom it has basically the documents that have come out, which includes the Dear Tribal Leader sent the Dear Tribal Leader sending a letter sent the interim final rule which is the, the guidance for Treasury to kind of lays out the specific requirements, and then importantly, the frequently asked questions, which is a regular that's updated regularly. Last updated as of July 19 21 2021 where they kind of go through and answer questions and respond to them advise further detail and guidance as to the eligible uses and other issues arising out of CO, arousing use of arco funds, so this is a very good resource
question if a community lost their laundromat prior to the pandemic would they be able to fund for another. So the critical key here is not necessarily when you lost when not when you lost the laundromat rather have you incurred the funds after March 3 of 2021. That's the more, the more guideline it's if you even if you had a project that was maybe in place before March 31 March 3 2021 So long as you're only using the funds, after March 3 2021 to fund that project, it's still an eligible use so I don't think that the fact that the community lost a laundromat. Prior to 2020 affects the ability to use ARPA funds to build a new laundromat, as a, as a means of either a water or wastewater project or to provide, you know, to respond to the, to the COVID-19 negative impacts or to provide for a public health measure in terms of the lower middle income, it's a kind of using treasuries or I think the IRS is kind of identification of what regions are determined to be low or middle middle income households. And there's some specifics in the guidance as to how to identify where those areas are.
So we're at the top of the hour if anybody has one last question, please submit it now or ask, go ahead and ask Chris.
I'm not hearing anything. So with that, these trainings are brought to you through a partnership between the Alaska Municipal League and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Additional information can be found on the AML website, the AFM navigators website, and you, you've noticed that we are recording these trainings so they will be available for your use at a later time, takes us a few days to process the recordings and get them up on our website, but please check back with the FN navigators website and the Alaska Municipal League. Many thanks to Chris and Sarah for their presentation today Chris has become a subject matter expert on all things related to federal funding, and it's, it's nice to have an expert like Chris because there is so much that's coming down the road that we want to make sure Alaska and Alaska Native people can capitalize on all of these opportunities so please consider attending in the future look back and and refresh yourself if you've missed a presentation, and I want to thank everybody here today for attending. Thank you very much. Thank you, Greg.