The Senate passed its version of the coronavirus relief package – H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the House approved the Senate version of the bill with no amendments. On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law. The legislation includes extension of unemployment benefits and stimulus checks but no minimum wage hike.
Big benefactors of the relief act are counties, cities and towns which will receive $65.1 billion to mitigate economic harm, cover increased expenditures, replenish lost revenue and provide for COVID-19 relief measures for such vaccinations, testing, treatment and prevention.
According to Texas Municipal League of Cities and the National Association of Counties as part of the relief bill, funds may also be used for agriculture and nutrition programs, small business assistance, support for health care workers, veterans and targeted populations, help and support for schools, broadband and other services.
Atascosa County received $9,920,809 million in the relief fund and the cities received the following: Charlotte $410,000, Jourdanton $960,000, Lytle $670,000, Pleasanton $2.37 million and Poteet $760,000.
“Our first priority out of the American Relief Bill that’s been passed in Congress is to establish a full-time vaccination clinic for Atascosa County,” said Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley. “Then, my hope is that we can administer 800 shots a day, five days a week until we have everyone vaccinated in Atascosa County that wants shots.”
According the National Association of Counties, the act’s funds basically are in three separate pots: states, cities and counties. Municipal money will not be taken from the overall county pot, and neither counties nor municipalities are dependent on the state to distribute their funds. The Treasury will directly deposit all funds to accounts in two installments: 50% within the next 60 days and 50% about a year after the first payment.
The economic impact of the coronavirus on sales tax revenue alone was great in Atascosa County. The county and all but one city – Poteet – saw reductions in their monthly tax rebates from the Texas State Comptroller’s office. Following is a list of the loss and the one city gain during 2020:
Atascosa County’s Sales and Use Tax Allocation checks totaled $7,885,717 in 2019 vs. $4,367,579 in 2020. Pleasanton’s Sales and Use Tax Allocation checks totaled $5,491,613 in 2019 and $4,408,258 in 2020. Jourdanton’s Sales and Use Tax Allocation checks totaled $1,021,680 in 2019 and $873,389 in 2020. Poteet’s Sales and Use Tax Allocation checks totaled $471,725 in 2019 vs. $477,586 in 2020. Charlotte’s Sales and Use Tax Allocation checks totaled $354,588 in 2019 and $287,422 in 2020. Lytle’s Sales and Use Tax Allocation checks totaled $1,491,676 in 2019 and $945,779 in 2020.
The citizens of Atascosa County who qualified should receive a stimulus check in their bank or mailbox soon as part of the relief act. For individuals who have direct deposit on file with the IRS, a deposit will be made into your bank. For those who do not have direct deposit information on file at the IRS, a check or debit card will be sent out, but it will take longer to receive than the electronic payments. Payments are based on 2019 or 2020 tax returns.
The latest payments are $1,400 per household member, including adults, children and adult dependents such as college students and elderly relatives. Adult dependents were not eligible in prior rounds of payments. A married couple with two children will receive up to $5,600. That is more than the $3,400 maximum payment in last year’s first round for that size household and the $2,400 maximum for the second round.
There are income limits to who can receive the payments. Individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000, heads of households with an AGI up to $112,000 and married couples with AGI up to $150,000 will get full payments. Any AGI over those amounts will not receive checks.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also includes provisions that:
-Extend enhanced unemployment benefits through September, providing an additional $300 per week on top of all state unemployment benefits.
-Expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, tools intended to end poverty.
-Provide premium assistance for certain health insurance coverage; and
-Require coverage, without cost-sharing, of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).