New Braunfels officials pursue creation of plan for nearly $1 million of its CARES Act funding

New Braunfels City Council voted to create a plan to allocate nearly $1 million of the city's CARES Act funding. (Courtesy Fotolia)
New Braunfels City Council voted to create a plan to allocate nearly $1 million of the city's CARES Act funding. (Courtesy Fotolia)

New Braunfels City Council voted to create a plan to allocate nearly $1 million of the city's CARES Act funding. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Following an update from city financial staff Oct. 12, New Braunfels City Council voted to create a plan to allocate its CARES Act funding, including nearly $1 million for certain entities that deal with the COVID-19 pandemic's emergency response.

Specifically, $870,965 has been earmarked for organizations and agencies designated as nonprofits or that are actively responding to the fallout from pandemic.

Jeff Jewell, New Braunfels director of economic and community development, said the nuts and bolts of the plan involve a partnership with the McKenna Foundation, an organization that makes grants to nonprofits, to help guide the city's finance officials through what they are calling a Non-Profit Business Interruption Grant Program.

The decision to create the allocation plan for a portion of the CARES Act funding has much to do with federal and state guidelines, Jewell said, adding that regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Texas Department of Emergency Management have helped inform the move approved by council.

"In accordance with those guidelines, we were presenting an expenditure plan where the city is reimbursed for its direct expenses associated with the COVID-19 response, which is principally ... going to be for public safety personnel costs," Jewell said. "So, that allows us to access the other 25% of the [city's total CARES Act] funds, which can be used for business interruptions ... something we've kind of termed 'economic and humanitarian support.'"

During the Oct. 12 meeting, City Council approved City Manager Robert Camareno to enter into a services agreement with the McKenna Foundation to help create and review spending recommendations to city officials that Jewell said he hopes they will ultimately approve.

Jewell clarified that the city does not yet have the funding and that any money spent would then be presented to the federal government for a reimbursement to the city.

New Braunfels is eligible for $4.6 million based on a per capita formula, 20% of which, or $920,000, has already been fronted to the city.

For cities with a population of less than 500,000, New Braunfels CFO Jared Werner said, 75% of the funding must be spent on direct expenses, including medical, public health or employees dedicated to responding to COVID-19.

The remaining 25% will go to a tourism recovery plan, at $292,450, and a nonprofit business interruption grant program, at $870,965.

Jewell said the interruption grant program would be a 501(c)3 designation. Recipients must be located in and providing services to New Braunfels residents and must demonstrate a financial hardship to their organization directly tied to the pandemic.

"We hope to bring that to you in the next couple of months," Jewell said, adding the timeline to get grant recommendations to City Council is Nov. 23 and that all documentation for reimbursement must be to TDEM by Dec. 15.

During the Oct. 12 meeting, Jewell also said the city has also allocated its own general fund monies—$600,000 so far—to 67 local businesses as part of its pandemic relief response. Phase 2 initiatives to more local businesses are in the planning phase as the city works with the New Braunfels Economic Development Corp. and other stakeholders.

By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.