On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act. The initiative provides $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible State, Tribal and local governments to help turn the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic, address the economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery.
Chairman Rambler stated, “It’s important we read and understand the allowable uses of the funds we will be receiving. The Council has invested much in fixing its financial management system. We get audited annually. We are nearing our planned goal of reaching self-governance status. We cannot take any chances and jeopardize our strong financial management standing with ill-conceived decisions resulting from lack of understanding. That is why I am encouraging our Council, our Directors, our employees, and our people to read and understand the interim final rule on how we can use these funds.”
The Act allocates $20 billion to Tribal governments, directing that $1 billion is to be allocated equally among eligible Tribal governments and $19 billion to be allocated to Tribal governments in a manner determined by the Secretary of the Treasurer. Of the $19 billion, Treasury’s allocation methodology provides that 65% of these funds, or $12.35 billion, will be distributed based on pro rata, self-certified tribal enrollment. In April of this year, Chairman Rambler had sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury (“Treasury”) certifying that the Tribe’s enrollment, as of February 1, 2021, was 16,770 San Carlos Apaches. The U.S. Treasury will distribute the remaining 35% of these funds, or $6.65 billion, based on pro rata, self-certified tribal employment data. The Tribe will reconfirm this data later in May.
Since the first case of coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) that was discovered in the United States in January 2020, the disease has infected over 32 million Americans and killed over 575,000. The disease has impacted every part of life. In April 2020, the national unemployment rate reached its highest level in over seventy years following the most severe month-over-month decline in employment. During this time, a significant share of households faced food and housing insecurity and economic disruption.
Federal, State, Tribal and local governments have responded on an unprecedented, immense scale. Governments have faced myriad needs to prevent and address the spread of COVID-19, including testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, public communications, issuance and enforcement of health orders, expansions to health system capacity like alternative health care facilities, and, in recent months, a massive nationwide mobilization around vaccinations. Governments also have supported major efforts to prevent COVID-19 spread through safety measures in settings like nursing homes, schools, congregate living settings, dense worksites, incarceration settings, and public facilities. The pandemic’s impacts on behavioral health, including the toll of pandemic-related stress, have increased the need for behavioral health resources.
At the same time, State, tribal and local governments launched major efforts to address the economic impacts of the pandemic. These efforts have been tailored to the needs of their communities and have included expanded assistance to unemployed workers; food assistance; rent, mortgage, and utility support; cash assistance; internet access programs; expanded service to support individuals experiencing homelessness; support for individuals with disabilities and older adults; and assistance to small businesses facing closures of revenue loss or implementing new safety measures.
To help address these hardships brought on by COVID-19, on March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress. These funds are intended to provide support to States, Tribal and local governments in responding to the impact of COVID-19 on their communities, residents, and businesses. These funds may be used for:
- To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
- To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers;
- For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenues due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency; and
- To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
ARPA First Phase Distribution
The first phase payment to tribes will include the $1 billion allocation to be divided equally among the 574 federally recognized tribes and each tribe’s pro rata share of the enrollment allocation of the 65% of the $19 billion. The second phase payment will include each tribe’s pro rata share of the employment allocation of 35% of the $19 billion.
In order that the U.S. Treasury may calculate the Tribe’s share of the first phase payment, the Tribe’s Finance Department submitted all required information to the Treasury’s Portal on Wednesday May 12, 2021. It will then take the U.S. Treasury 4-5 business days to review and confirm the information. Chairman Rambler and the Tribe’s Treasurer, Michelle Young, will receive notification sometime this week of when and how much the Tribe will be receiving from the first phase payment. The Tribe will receive the second phase payment from the U.S. Treasury sometime in June 2021.
The U.S. Treasury also released the Interim Final Rule for the program that describes eligible uses of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The Tribe anticipates that the first phase payment will be substantial.
Chairman Rambler stated, “I am very happy that our San Carlos Council earmarked and set aside $24,070,000 from the American Rescue Plan funds to distribute Emergency Economic Assistance payments to each tribal member 18 years and older as of March 15, 2021. The first $500 distribution will be made when funds are made available, the second $500 distribution the week of July 12, 2021, the third $500 distribution the week of December 13, 2021, and the fourth distribution of $500 the week of March 15, 2022, in all totaling $2,000 to each eligible tribal member. The Council took this action to help address the health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Council put our people first. Our Finance Department will be distributing the first $500 payment as soon as we receive the first phase payment from the U.S. Treasury.
I am also very happy our Council earmarked and set aside $36,000,000 for a long-term health care facility to help bring our Elders home. Our Elders and families were heavily impacted by the pandemic. The nursing home will be designed and constructed by our Health Care Corporation who will also manage and operate the new facility and services. The Health Care Corporation has already completed and updated their feasibility study. The feasibility study shows that the facility and service will be able to support itself through third party reimbursements. The Health Care Corporation has started hiring consultants to start the process of planning, designing and constructing a new long-term care facility for our Elders. Funds will be made available to the Health Care Corporation as soon as we receive the funds.
I am equally very happy our Council earmarked and set aside $6,562,411 for the San Carlos Apache Gaming Enterprise to renovate its Apache Gold Casino Hotel. The hotel was used during the pandemic to isolate and quarantine our residents to help prevent the further spread of the virus. The Gaming Enterprise has started the renovation process. Funds will be made available to the Gaming Enterprise as soon as we receive the funds.
Finally, I am very happy our Council earmarked and set aside $452,000 to our General Manager’s Office for the KYAY Radio Station to receive a major upgrade. During the pandemic, communication with our people became even more important. Due to social distancing and limits on crowd gathering sizes, the sharing of information was critical through KYAY and Zoom video conference meetings. Funds will be made available to the KYAY Radio Station as soon as we received the funds.
All these earmarked and set aside planned costs are allowable uses of the American Rescue Plan’s tribal government funds pursuant to the interim final rule.”
Chairman Rambler concluded, “I was so fortunate to have met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on October 8, 2020 in Phoenix. At the meeting, he had given me 15 minutes to talk to him. I had informed him Tribes needed help with funding to help address the pandemic. I had informed him on the importance of protecting Oak Flat. I had informed him that an investment was needed to improve our infrastructure. And I had informed him that we needed to invest in renewable sources of energy to help protect our planet as we are in the beginning stages of global warming.
I am happy that President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act which will help our people with the COVID-19 pandemic. I am happy that President Biden withdrew the publication of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Oak Flat area temporarily halting the planned destruction of Oak Flat. I am happy that President Biden is negotiating with Congress to pass another bill that will help improve our roads, bridges, schools, water, sewer, utilities, renewable energy, and broadband. This is desperately needed. I thank our people for campaigning for and voting for President Biden and Vice President Harris as important positive changes are coming to our people.”
Chairman Rambler has made available the interim final rule to implement the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Coronavirus Local Fund Recovery Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act on his website. Please visit the Chairman’s website at www.chairmanterryrambler.org to read and review the interim final rule.
Read the full text of the Interim Final Rule here:
Download the full text of this press release in PDF format: