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Some Florida Cities Using Leftover COVID Relief Money on Unrelated Projects

In 2020 and 2021, Florida cities received millions of dollars from COVID relief. Going into 2024, several Florida cities are still sitting on piles of cash that still need to be spent.

When COVID relief funds were doled out during 2020 and 2021, the U.S Treasury Department listed requirements on how cities should spend funds, but critics of the program said the Treasury Department “requirements” were too vague and enforcing the rules wouldn’t happen.

Since the cities don’t have to return the unused COVID money, the Treasury Department has announced that local governments can have more flexibility for recipients of COVID relief funds. Money once specifically designated to spend on COVID related issues only, will no longer be obligated to do so.

Some Florida municipalities are sitting on millions of leftover COVID funds. In South Florida, North Lauderdale says they will use unspent COVID money to help residents pay for new roofs and hurricane resistant windows. The city said they give homeowners up to $30,000 for roof replacements, re-roofing, the installation of a secondary water barrier, the installation of hurricane straps, and or the installation of hurricane resistant doors and windows.

In North Florida, Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan says her office will spend over $25 million of the remaining COVID dollars on public safety, housing, and recreation projects.

Other items include around $5.8 million on youth and family programs. $5 million on home ownership programs to keep people in houses instead of becoming homeless.

Money for city pools and lifeguards. Like North Lauderdale, Jacksonville will also spend $1 million to help people pay for new roofs on homes.

David Williams from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance criticizes the spending of these items from COVID funds.

“We were told the money must be used for COVID related issues, but this money that could have been already appropriated in budgets by these mayors in their annual budgets and and it just shows government wasting money on area’s not related to the pandemic,” Williams said .

In November of 2021, Florida Daily reported that some Florida cities were spending their COVIDrelief fund on parks, playgrounds, the arts and golf courses–where critics argue that COVID money shouldn’t be spent.

In Palm Beach Gardens, government officials approved using COVID relief money to help build a brand-new 115-acre, par-3 golf course with bike paths and a clubhouse. The total costs stood a $16.8 million.

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Ed Dean is a leading radio and news media personality including hosting the #1 statewide radio talk show in Florida. Contact Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com

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