By Mike Cook, Las Cruces Bulletin. Sept. 11. 2020
Doña Ana County and the cities of Las Cruces, Anthony and Sunland Park will share in more than $17 million as part of almost $150 million in federal CARES Act grants to local governments and small businesses across the state to offset expenses related to COVID-19.
“It goes to show that we understand the impact not only across New Mexico but across the country that this pandemic is having,” Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said.
Morales said the CARES Act funds can be spent on a wide range of expenses that governmental entities have incurred during COVID. A news release from the governor’s office said those expenses include childcare assistance, personal protective equipment, public health and safety personnel, senior programs, corrections, law enforcement, fire and EMS services.
The small business grants can go for payroll, rent, mortgage payments, insurance, utilities and technology to facilitate employees working at home, as well as health and safety and other business expenses.
The New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration received 83 local government applications for $199.83 million in CARES Act funds made available to local governments and 66 applications for $49.963 million made available to small business grants via local governments, the news release said. Applications were open to almost all of New Mexico’s local governments for those funds, except for the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, which received CARES Act funds directly from the federal government.
Local government grants went to the City of Anthony: $50,000; Doña Ana County: $1.4 million; City of Las Cruces: $7,104,802; City of Sunland Park: $77,656. The local grant awards for small businesses via local governments were Doña Ana County: $3,039,750; City of Las Cruces: $5,440,188.
Morales said the state is grateful to its federal congressional delegation for their support, and for its partnerships with communities across New Mexico.
“We’re all in this together,” Morales said.
The grants also point out how important an accurate count in the 2020 U.S. Census is for New Mexico, Morales said, because federal funds are allocated based on population figures. The Census has been taken every 10 years since 1790, the lieutenant governor said, and has shown a gradual decline in participation during the past two-plus centuries.
“We have to reverse that,” Morales said, noting that accurate numbers will impact the federal funding New Mexico receives for health care, childcare, infrastructure, education, etc.
Morales said that while there is “a lot of fear” among some residents about filling out the Census form, it is “simply just a population count.” The form contains no questions about citizenship or political affiliation and does not require a Social Security number.