Clickability tracking pixel
Stay informed

Learn How the CARES Act Can Help Your Special District


Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

News Staff / July 8, 2020

Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is intended to address the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic through funding to offset declining revenues and implement new technologies in response to this national crisis. Helping special districts identify available CARES Act funds was the topic of our latest Special Districts Virtual Summit on June 23. More than 175 special district leaders logged in to hear e.Republic Vice President of Research Joe Morris offer his insights on the massive federal stimulus program launched in March.

“The Cares Act provides $2.2 trillion in stimulus funding, making it the largest economic relief package in the history of the U.S.,” said Morris. “Much of that money is distributed through formula-based grants, which will help the money roll out faster and more predictably.”

These funds offer vital support for special districts. New research conducted by the Special Districts Program shows the size of the challenge facing special district leaders. More than 50 percent of districts responding to the survey have seen revenue decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and almost 50 percent have experienced service disruptions. Another 40 percent said they have urgent new IT needs due to remote work and virtual services requirements triggered by the virus.

Morris said special districts can use CARES Act dollars both to fund ongoing operations and implement new technology to address these evolving needs. Key CARES Act recommendations from this important virtual event include:

  • Think broadly about potential CARES Act funding opportunities. These dollars can be applied to an extremely wide range of needs related to offsetting the impact of COVID-19.
  • CARES Act dollars often flow through governors and local government leaders. Connect with these leaders to advocate for funding.
  • Keep detailed records of COVID-19 expenses. Transparency requirements for CARES Act funding are unclear at this point.
  • Closely monitor federal legislative activity for future stimulus programs. Congress currently is considering infrastructure funding legislation which could offer significant new benefits for special districts.
  • Understand your evolving technology requirements. COVID will continue to accelerate digital transformation trends, particularly around remote work and virtual citizen services.


Watch the recorded CARES Act Virtual Summit here.

Focus Brief Series: Public Transit

This year, we’re releasing a new series of briefs focused on important policy and technology trends in key special district program areas -- starting with public transit. This month, we take an in-depth look at how the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LA Metro), operator of the nation’s third-largest public transit system, is meeting the needs of a new generation of riders and employees. Find out how LA Metro is overhauling bus routes, rolling out new on-demand ride services and improving equipment maintenance. And see how network technology is evolving to support the growing data needs of transit districts. Read the brief and watch the related video.

Recognizing Innovative Response Efforts

We’re pivoting the 2020 Special District Awards Program to showcase innovative technologies and leadership related to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Submit your nomination online today for evaluation. Submissions are due by Sept. 25. Choose from three award categories:

Technology innovation: Citizens — Making services available online, sharing new information, deploying new engagement tools, etc.
Technology Innovation: Operations
— Deploying remote work initiatives, reengineering business processes, enhancing security, etc.
Technology Innovation:
Leadership — Recognizes special district officials who have led innovative and bold responses to COVID-19

District Spotlight: Libraries Step Up

Although public libraries have been shuttered in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, library leaders have found new ways to continue serving citizens. From shifting how they provide traditional core services to reimagining ways they connect with residents to redeploying staff to serve in emergency-management roles, libraries are playing an important role in strengthening community resilience.

The San Antonio, Texas, Public Library, for example, developed multilingual handouts with information on unemployment benefits and rental assistance that librarians will distribute curbside. In California's Alameda County, library branches kept public Wi-Fi access open and maintained power to exterior outlets. The Seattle Public Library kept five branches open strictly for restroom use. And when heat waves hit, key Los Angeles County libraries have been repurposed as cooling stations.

Read the full story.

More Articles Worth a Read

Here are more stories from special districts around the country. Share your own news with us for inclusion in the next newsletter.

The Port of San Antonio will become home to a new regional security operations center under a $4 million agreement with the city of San Antonio. The 20,000 square-foot facility will serve as the cybersecurity hub for municipal government and city-related agencies.

The Jacksonville (Fla.) Transportation Authority plans autonomous overhaul of 1980s-era elevated monorail system. The authority says replacing the 2.5 mile Skyway will be the start of more downtown transportation innovation.

Maine transit agencies struggle with new COVID rules for out-of-state riders. Governor’s directive says visitors should show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before using public transit.

GovTech Special Districts Program Report.

Download Now

Sign-up for the newsletter.

E.REPUBLIC Platforms & Programs