​CARES Act Funding and the Coronavirus Relief Fund

​The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020, and with it the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to help stabilize state, local, and tribal budgets. The relief fund falls under​ the purview of the U.S. Department of Treasury. The Act requires that the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) only be used to cover expenses that:

  1. Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
  2. Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
  3. Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) provides an opportunity to identify and cover the costs of the County's significant efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Federal Guidance About Use of the Coronavirus Relief Fund

Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance for State, Territorial, Local and Tribal Governments

Coronavirus Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions​

Sacramento County's Share of the Coronavirus Relief Fund

California received $15 billion of the CRF. Local governments (such as counties and cities) with populations in excess of 500,000 received payment amounts. Sacramento County received $181 million in CRF funding from the U.S. Treasury on March 27, 2020. The County received a $25 million allocation in CRF funding from the State of California on June 29, 2020.​

The Board of Supervisors declared a Local and Public Health Emergency on March 19, 2020. County operations shifted significantly to focus on the response to and meet the critical Public Health needs of the pandemic. 

On April 21, 2020, the Board of Supervisors authorized the County Executive to apply for, accept and draw down funding from Federal and State Governments related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The County Executive established the Coronavirus Fund Relief Committee to review and recommend fund payment expenditures to County Departments. The CRF Committee consists of:

  • Chief, Office of Emergency Services (Chair)
  • Deputy County Executive, Social Services
  • Deputy County Executive, Administrative Services
  • Deputy County Executive, Public Works and Infrastructure
  • Chief Fiscal Officer​
  • Director of Finance
  • Director of Personnel Services

​How the County Determines the Use of the Coronavirus Relief Funds

​The CRF Committee requested that all departments identify expenses related to combating the coronavirus, and the Committee approves expenditures that meet the requirements of the Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

The Committee either approved expenditures that were eligible for CRF funding or departments were instructed to utilize other funding sources such as FEMA, Project Homekey or other state or federal assistance.  

​​All CRF payments will be subject to the Single Audit Act. Every fiscal year, the County is audited for all grants received from the federal government by external auditors.

Below is a table of the costs incurred through CRF to December 30, 2020:

​​​​​Category of Spending
​Administ​​rative Expenses
​Budgeted Personnel and Services Dedicated to a Substantially Different Use
​COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing
​Economic Support
​Food Programs
​Housing Support
​Improve Telework Capabilities of Public Employees
​Medical Expenses
​Payroll For Public Health and Safety Employees
​Public Health Expenses
​Small Business Assistance
​Items not Listed Above

​The Guidance from the U.S. Treasury for the use of the Coronavirus Relief Fund is as follows:

“The Guidance says that funding can be used to meet payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Fund is designed to provide ready funding to address unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the COVID-19 public health emergency. For this reason, ​and as a matter of administrative convenience in light of the emergency nature of this program, a State, territorial, local, or Tribal government may presume that payroll costs for public health and public safety employees are payments for services substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency." 

The guidance further states that, “the entire payroll cost of an employee whose time is substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency is eligible, provided that such payroll costs are incurred by December 30, 2020."

Read the U.S. Treasury FAQs on Coronavirus Relief Funds

CARES Funding Used to Avoid Drastic Cuts in Staffing and Critical Services

The CRF committee requested that all County departments to review those requests on a routine basis. In reviewing eligible costs identified by departments, the Committee was guided by three key goals: 

  • Address critical public health needs to contain the spread of COVID19; 
  • Avoid potentially massive budget cuts to critical County programs, including public health, mental health, alcohol and drug, public safety, child protective services, homeless services, parks and other programs; and 
  • Fully comply with federal law and guidance on the use of CRF funds, such as the prohibition on backfilling revenue losses, the requirement that the use of funds be subject to the Single Audit Act, the prohibition on using CRF funds to match other federal funds and the general requirement that the funds be used to cover COVID-related expenses (copies of the U.S Treasury Department’s “Coronavirus Relief Fund: Guidance for State, Territorial, Local and Tribal Governments” and “Coronavirus Relief Fund: Frequently asked Questions” are attached).

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that the County will receive approximately $169.5 million less in discretionary (primarily Sales Tax and Transient Occupancy Tax) and Semi-discretionary (Proposition 172 and non-CalWORKS Realignment) revenue than was expected to receive in FY2019-20 and FY2020-21 combined.​

These discretionary and semi-discretionary revenues fund the County’s General Fund departments, which include: Child and Adult Protective Services; Health Services; Public Safety; Human Assistance; In-Home Supportive Services and homeless services.

The CRF Payroll for Public Health and Safety Employees totals $165 million, but did not provide any additional funds or positions from the $165 million. Rather, the County used that CRF money for payroll costs instead of General Fund money.  This additional $1​65 million in General Fund money allowed the County to avoid significant reductions in services from General Fund departments listed above that provide critical County services.​

​Although the CARES Act does not allow the use of CRF money to backfill revenue losses directly, it does allow the use of CRF funds to cover the costs of total salary and benefits. This includes use of CRF for payroll costs for public safety, public health, human services and similar employees.​

Reports Submitted to the U.S. Treasury​​