BY ALI VETNAR
JULY 30, 2020 AT 4:25 AM
PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has introduced bipartisan legislation that would direct a portion of the next round of federal coronavirus relief to special districts throughout the country.
The Democratic senator worked alongside Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to construct the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act, which would ensure fire, sewage, water, public utilities, flood control and public health special districts are eligible to receive future federal coronavirus financial aid.
“What our bill says is that when new coronavirus relief dollars go to a state, 5% of it gets set aside for special districts, like fire districts and water districts,” Sinema told KTAR News 92.3 FM Tuesday.
“Arizona’s special districts safeguard Arizonans from deadly fires, manage our water security, and help protect public health. These local entities must receive a fair share of coronavirus relief in future legislative packages.”
Special districts are self-governing political subdivisions of states that provide public services such as fire protection and water sanitation. There were 310 special districts throughout Arizona considered ineligible for direct assistance from the federal coronavirus relief bill.
The Buckeye Valley Fire District was one of Arizona’s special districts left out of the first round of federal coronavirus relief.
Buckeye Valley Fire District Chief Mark Burdick submitted just over $90,000 in direct COVID-19 costs to the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military for reimbursement on June 30th.
Indirect expenses were also measured to be $194,000 since the coronavirus outbreak.
“55% of money that went to governments went to state funding, 45% of money was believed to be dedicated to cities and counties,” Sinema said of the federal coronavirus relief funds. “It didn’t work out quite like that in Arizona, but the bottom line is … these fire districts were completely left out with no money at all.”
“We are thankful that Senator Sinema and her team understand the importance of the services provided by America’s fire districts who were omitted in the CARES Act,” Scott A Freitag, Fire Chief for the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, said in a press release.
“It is great to work with a team who’s forward thinking will help to ensure these agencies have access to funds that will help to solidify the stability of emergency response systems.”