Tensions rise between San Joaquin County, cities over $133M in federal COVID-19 relief money

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Frustrations over $133 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds are rising between San Joaquin County and its cities.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs told FOX40 that he takes issue with how the county Board of Supervisors approved spending that money, with none going to the cities.

“The cities aren’t receiving anything and it’s not only Stockton that’s upset. They got letters from Tracy, Manteca and Lodi who are all saying, ‘Hey, where’s our share?’” said Tubbs. “It felt like a slap in the face to my residents, the most diverse city. I think it’s unacceptable.”

The federal government’s CARES Act granted millions of dollars money to counties and cities with populations of more than 500,000 people to help with coronavirus response.  

“It was just extremely disappointing and frustrating, particularly because Stockton has 52% of the COVID cases and because without the city of Stockton, there’s no allocation for San Joaquin County because we are 45% of the county,” said Tubbs.

Tuesday, county supervisors approved a budget that will include the following: 

  • Nearly $118 million will go to reimburse San Joaquin General Hospital, health care services and other county departments and create a reserve fund to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus cases in the fall.
  • $15 million will go toward economic development that will be evenly split between each supervisors’ district. 

“There is really no strategy for how the funds will be spent, which is frustrating because you don’t get $133 million every day,” said Tubbs. “I hope the board reconsiders their decision and at least allow cities to apply for reimbursement of COVID-19 expenses.”

Tubbs told FOX40 he planned to put that money toward contact tracing and rental assistance for vulnerable populations, among other expenses. 

“To pay for the work our cops and our firefighters are doing. To pay for the grants been given to shelters and the women’s center, etcetera,” said Tubbs.

According to the board, the county has spent $8.4 million since March.

“The argument is not that the county should have no money,” said Tubbs. “It’s that the county should not have all the money because the county’s not doing all the work and responding to COVID-19.”

On Wednesday afternoon, San Joaquin County released a statement saying one of the reasons the county received federal funding is because it owns and operates the only public hospital in the county.

The statement says, in part, “We recognize that all local governments are struggling with this crisis together and we deeply understand the fiscal needs of our local cities during this unprecedented time.”

You can read San Joaquin County’s full statement on the CARES Act relief funds below:

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