On October 7, Governor Ralph Northam announced an additional $30 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for fast-track broadband projects in the Commonwealth. The funding opportunity is available to local governments and utilizes part of the $3.1 billion in federal funds provided to Virginia under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).
Here are some important considerations to note about the program:
- Only localities may apply and be awarded funds. Localities are allowed and encouraged to partner with broadband providers to complete projects, but the locality must be the applicant.
- All of the same conditions that existed for the first and second round of CARES Act allocations to localities continue for this round of allocations. Compliance with the federal guidance is the responsibility of the locality submitting the proposal and failure to do so could result in disallowed expenses – requiring the applicant locality to repay the associated funds to the federal government. Specifically, the CARES Act provides that payments from the CRF only may be used to cover costs that are (1) necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency, (2) were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020, and (3) were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.
- Proposals will need to be developed and submitted quickly, and projects will be approved on a rolling basis until funds are fully obligated.
- Applicants must certify that all expenses related to these projects will be expended by December 25, 2020 and that the projects will be in-service by that date.
- Applicants must link all proposed projects to expanding connectivity for distance learning and telework needs necessary during the public health emergency.
Full program guidelines and an application form may be accessed here, but can also be downloaded at – https://www.commonwealthconnect.virginia.gov/COVID-19.
Questions and completed applications should be sent to: email@example.com.
VACo Contacts: Jeremy R. Bennett and Joe Lerch, AICP