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Jul 10

July 10, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #82

Posted on July 10, 2020 at 2:15 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


What can mayors do right now to support congressional efforts for a next round of federal stimulus to all Texas cities?


The Senate Finance Committee is currently preparing the next federal stimulus package for workers, businesses, states, and local governments, and the U.S. Senate is expected to consider the measure after Congress returns from break on July 20. Please join mayors from across Texas in signing this letter urging our congressional delegation to provide direct and flexible assistance to Texas cities. Mayors interested in signing onto the letter, please email your name, city, and electronic signature to by 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 14 to be included. 


Cities are facing major public health and public safety challenges at the same time we are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Simply put, demand and need for core local government services has increased significantly at the same time we are all projecting unprecedented levels of revenue loss. As metropolitan area economies generate over 91 percent of the nation's GDP, direct flexible fiscal assistance to local governments is how to spur an economic comeback.


We encourage city officials to continue visiting with your members of Congress, as well as Senators Cornyn and Cruz, to communicate the needs of your city. ?Now, while the Senate is in recess, call your senators and representatives. We also urge city officials to engage with your business community leaders to call on members of Congress and senators in support of additional direct flexible funding. 


We are thankful for your voice during these trying times and we appreciate all that you are doing on behalf your communities.


What is the status of the suspended Open Meetings Act provisions?


Today (7/10), the governor’s office extended the Open Meetings Act suspensions. Previously, on March 16, the governor granted the office of the attorney general’s request for suspension of certain open meeting statutes. The temporary suspension allows, among other things, for telephonic or videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the public in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups of people. The guidance associated with the suspension provides that:


“These suspensions are in effect until terminated by the office of the governor, or until the March 13, 2020, disaster declaration is lifted or expires.”


The March 13 declaration has been extended for successive 30-day periods, including today’s extension for 30 days. That means the relevant open meetings laws remain suspended for at least another 30 days (or until affirmatively rescinded). 


We can’t be certain, but it is highly likely that the governor will continue to repeatedly extend his declarations. We’ve heard from his staff that they have no immediate plans to rescind the suspensions, which are sensible and seem to be working well, but that can’t be guaranteed.


Are there ongoing efforts to ease state-issued restrictions on the use of federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) revenue by cities in counties under 500,000 population?


Yes. The City of Waco has drafted a letter asking the governor to consider eliminating the so-called “75 percent limitation” on the use of CRF funds for cities located in counties under 500,000 population.


As background, the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) CRF Terms and Conditions document contains the following statement regarding the use of grant money allocated from TDEM to cities:


“The subrecipient agrees that a minimum of 75% of its allotment will be spent in the categories of medical expenses, public health expenses and payroll expenses for employees substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the public emergency. The remainder of the allotment may be spent in any of the categories provided within the Treasury guidance.”


The other general categories of expenses for which only 25% percent of a city’s allotment can be spent are: (1) expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures; (2) expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency; and (3) any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.


The League sent a letter to Governor Abbott last month asking him to eliminate the 75 percent limitation in order to free up federal dollars for use on economic support for local businesses, among other things. No action has yet been taken on the spending limitations, which has prompted Waco to take the lead on this new request.


Mayors interested in signing on to Waco’s letter are encouraged to email their name, city, and electronic signature to Ashley Nystrom with the City of Waco at by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 13.



Further Updates


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.