More than a billion dollars of federal coronavirus relief money has flowed into Nevada, but some cities will see a disproportionately small share.
Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office announced Thursday that it would distribute $148.5 million in federal CARES Act money to cities and counties across the state, but North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite were not on the list because Clark County got its own direct allocation from the federal government.
Instead, the cities will rely on a share of $9 million that the county set aside from its pot of federal relief money to help municipalities. CARES Act money may be used for reimbursing coronavirus-related expenses and could go to help small businesses.
“It is breathtakingly unfair to give millions of COVID relief dollars to counties that did not have one single confirmed case of COVID while withholding relief from a disproportionately and disparately impacted community,” North Las Vegas Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown told the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Friday. “This is not equitable to our minority-owned businesses nor our underserved community awakened by the national conversation of justice and demand for equal treatment.”
She later added: “Our community will not take this unequal treatment. Now is the time to take the knee of oppression off our neck.”
Sisolak on Monday underscored that the method for distributing money was a federal plan, not a state plan, and noted that the county is responsible for many regional services.
He also acknowledged that cities in Clark County outside of Las Vegas were left out.
“Is that fair? I don’t want to weigh in on that,” he said. “I’ve got other elected officials that that’s going to be their responsibility. I know they’re talking, and I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to come up with something that satisfies everybody.”
Under the CARES Act, a wide-ranging federal stimulus and recovery bill, municipalities with populations of 500,000 or more were given relief money directly by the federal government. States were then authorized to distribute money to localities.
In Nevada, only Las Vegas and Clark County met the population threshold for direct funding from the federal government. Las Vegas received $119 million, while Clark County received $295 million. Nevada overall received $1.25 billion in CARES Act money.
Because North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite propped up Clark County’s population, relief funds for those cities are baked into the county’s allocation.
Most of the CARES Act money the county received will benefit the region through initiatives such as COVID-19 testing and rental assistance, according to Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin. The county also earmarked $21.5 million for small businesses throughout the county, he said.
Regional services account for nearly $270 million of the county’s CARES Act allocation, according to Kulin.
North Las Vegas should get its own money because all levels of government provide different services, North Las Vegas City Manager Ryann Juden said.
“Residents of North Las Vegas should be afforded the exact same relief from all levels of government, like residents in other cities in Nevada,” Juden said.
Juden said North Las Vegas is working with the state to get the city’s proportional share. North Las Vegas has spent about $5.5 million on its virus response so far.
Reno, a city similar in size to North Las Vegas, will receive more than $46 million in direct CARES Act funding from the state, and Washoe County will receive more than $20 million directly.
Jim McIntosh, chief financial officer for Henderson, said he expected the city to receive money from both the county and the state.
“So we were surprised to see that we were not included in the list of 16 counties and incorporated cities that were receiving direct allocations from the state,” he said.
Henderson so far has spent about $6 million on its response to the pandemic, he said. Through December, the city expects to spend about $20 million responding to the public health crisis, he said. McIntosh said the city expected about $58 million in CARES Act funding.
Contact Blake Apgar at email@example.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter. Review-Journal Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer contributed to this report.