Mayor Rob Kalman said Keego Harbor has taken advantage of grant money cities have received to help with COVID-related expenses. Kalman said that “grants play a big part in sustaining city operations.”

Mayor Rob Kalman said Keego Harbor has taken advantage of grant money cities have received to help with COVID-related expenses. Kalman said that “grants play a big part in sustaining city operations.”

Photo by Deb Jacques


Federal assistance bolsters communities’ COVID resources in Keego Harbor

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 15, 2020

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KEEGO HARBOR — The toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on local economies has been at least somewhat relieved due to assistance from the federal government.

A big part of the relief for cities and townships across the country has come in the form of the CARES Act, a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund that President Donald Trump signed into law in March.

The CARES Act has provided assistance for workers, families and small businesses, as well as for state, local and tribal governments, according to treasury.gov.

Amounts paid to states and eligible units of local government are based on population.

One of the beneficiaries of the CARES Act has been Keego Harbor.

“Our funding in Keego Harbor from the CARES Act went to Oakland County, and they’re administering it for all the cities, villages and townships in Oakland County,” Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman said. “We’re working with somebody at the county to help us in the distributions.”

Kalman discussed the benefits of being a CARES Act recipient.

“Our allocation from that grant from the county administering it for us was about $66,785,” he said. “We’re able to get supplies and equipment. It would help promote the safety and health of the employees at our City Hall and our Police Department.”

Examples of how the relief money has been or will be spent include “sneeze guards” inside City Hall and the Police Department; touchless faucets inside bathrooms; an electrostatic sprayer that can clean counters, door handles and desks; touchless sanitizer dispensers; sanitation wipes; masks for people who come into City Hall and don’t have them; and air scrubbers that “zap bacteria and viruses.”

Keego Harbor also received funding via the Coronavirus Relief Local Government Grants from the Michigan Department of Treasury in the amount of $6,884.

In September, the city was also approved for $11,250 for hazard pay for police officers from the Michigan Department of Treasury.

As for funding from the CARES Act, Kalman said, “we had to front some money to buy the things, and we get reimbursed.”

“The federal government is driving most of it, and it trickles down and either the state or the county typically administers these grants,” Kalman said. “We hear about grants that are available (and) we go to work. We apply and hope for the best.”

Accountability can be a big part of accepting grant money.

“When you’re submitting for expense reimbursement, you’ve got (to) list exactly what you purchased, how much it was, where you got it from,” Kalman said.

Kalman said Oakland County keeps a list on its website to help cities, townships and villages understand what grants are out there.

It is then a matter of applying and waiting to find out if a grant has been approved.

There can be an impact to not getting approval.

“If we didn’t get these grants and we still wanted to provide equipment and supplies for the city staff and city residents, we’d have to take it out of the general fund,” Kalman said. “That means less money for basic services. … Grants play a big part in sustaining city operations.”

Over the course of the last few months, West Bloomfield has also been the beneficiary of grant money, including from one that amounted to more than $1 million in reimbursement from the federal government for COVID-related expenditures, according to Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan.

“That’s public safety, public health reimbursement; it’s not salaries,” Kaplan said.

As an example, Kaplan said, the Fire Department incurred “huge expenses because of (the) need to sanitize and fumigate vehicles and uniforms: cleaning fees. It all has to be documented. … It’s very time intensive. Some communities do not have the staff or wherewithal or gumption to do it.”

Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake and Sylvan Lake contract with West Bloomfield to receive fire services.

After West Bloomfield received money via the CARES Act, according to Dave Boerger, who is on the finance committee for Orchard Lake, some of it was divided among the township’s three partnering cities, which make up the Tri-City Fire Commission.

Boerger said the divided amount comes to “$41,000 per community.”

It can benefit cities and townships to not go it alone when applying for a grant.

“Statistics show that collaborative grants are much more likely to be approved,” Boerger said.

Kaplan said West Bloomfield “very rarely” receives a grant because it would involve a special project.

“We anticipate zero dollars from grants, so anytime we obtain one, it’s a windfall; it’s wonderful for the community. It’s generally not for day-to-day expenses,” Kaplan said. “It’s a way for a community (to) be able to enhance its assets without spending money from the general fund. … It’s like Christmas time; it’s holiday season.”

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