Which Austin services could benefit from federal coronavirus relief funds

Austin
Austin City Hall_218003

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some City of Austin services could get a funding boost after the Texas Legislature passed a bill during the third special session that divvies up federal coronavirus relief funds.

Senate Bill 8 directs the $13.3 billion that Texas got as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to different state agencies. Those funds could eventually funnel down to impact Austin, the city’s intergovernmental relations officer explains in a Monday memo.

While the governor hasn’t signed off on the legislation just yet, City of Austin staff is already looking at the potential funding impacts to its services.

The city memo states Austin could directly benefit from funding in three areas: EMS staffing, broadband infrastructure and tourism/travel grants.

According to the memo, the bill sets aside $21.7 million for the Texas Department of State Health Services to ramp up emergency medical response service staffing through incentive programs, workforce development initiatives and education programs.

The legislation also allocates $180 million for tourism/travel grants and to help the hospitality industry recover from the pandemic. The city memo states the grants have a limit of $20,000.

Lastly, the bill puts more than $500 million in the hands of the Comptroller for broadband infrastructure. The city memo points to legislation passed during the regular session that created a Broadband Development Office. The office will map areas of the state with limited access to broadband and give out grants to expand access in those areas.

The city memo also lists a number of initiatives slated to get money that are supported by the city.

That includes $95 million to the Department of Agriculture for food banks, $5 million for home-delivered meals, $2 billion to DSHS for health care surge staffing and regional infusion centers and $378 million to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for grants for staffing needs at long-term care facilities.

The city memo again reiterates many details surrounding the appropriations in SB 8 haven’t been fleshed out yet. Staff aims to keep council members updated as more information is released.

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