OKLAHOMA CITY – State leaders plan to start distributing some of the $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding to local governments beginning the first week of June, Oklahoma’s governor announced Wednesday.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said cities and counties can apply for relief for any unexpected costs related to their pandemic response, but will not be eligible for reimbursement for lost local revenues related to the deadly virus.

Stitt urged local leaders to set up profiles and begin submitting requests on a new online portal as soon as possible.

City and county should have received a letter explaining how to access the portal, said Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland.

“(File submissions) so that we know what we’re going to be spending and what the need is out there,” he said.

Eligible expenses include things like new hires, overtime work and new technology purchases to allow telework during the pandemic, Stitt said. Eligible expenses must occur between March 1 and Dec. 30, be related to COVID-19 and can’t have been budgeted.

“Our mission is to maximize all federal dollars available during this unprecedented time and to ensure this money is spent with integrity on COVID-19 related expenses, emergencies and pandemic preparedness,” Stitt said.

He said the state Department of Health already spent about 2 to 3 percent of the funds, but enough funds should remain that leaders won’t have to choose between municipalities.

Lawton Mayor Stan Booker said some of his city’s biggest expenses included overtime for first responders and obtaining personal protective gear.

Two bipartisan committees will be tasked with approving or rejecting requests.

Stitt said he wants to ensure all available funding is spent.

Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at jstecklein@cnhi.com.

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