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Covid relief brings millions to area


March 19, 2021

The $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed last week by Congress and President Biden isn’t only sending $1,400 checks to many middle- to lower-income Americans, it also includes $360 billion for state and local governments that have had to cut services due to budget shortfalls during the pandemic. Minnesota is expected to receive $4.72 billion, with $2.6 billion going directly to the state and $2.1 billion going to local governments statewide. Another $20 billion will be sent to tribal governments across the country.

Cloquet city administrator Tim Peterson updated Cloquet City Council members during Tuesday’s meeting, revealing that preliminary estimates show that the City of Cloquet would receive $1.37 million dollars, with half received initially and half paid 12 months following receipt of the first payment.

This third round of stimulus is better in some ways for local government, he said.

“Many of the previous rules for this funding have been tweaked to better suit the needs of communities, residents and local businesses,” Peterson told the Pine Knot News. “Utilizing funds for lost revenue opens up the funding received to reimburse lost sales tax and tourism tax dollars, and opens the possibility of addressing concerns local businesses have shared during the pandemic.”

The period for submitting expenditures is much longer — Dec. 31, 2024 — than for previous Covid stimulus packages. “[That] allows the city time to review and decide a best strategy moving forward and address the long-term needs of the city, residents, and local businesses,” Peterson said.

Carlton County Economic Development director Mary Finnegan said the county expects to receive just under $7 million in two equal payments from the American Relief Plan: the first in mid-May and the second in March 2022. She said the county is still waiting to find out more about the terms of the stimulus package. Another round of business and nonprofit grants could be forthcoming, the county EDA’s Brenda Nyberg said last week.

Peterson said city staff would be putting together a list of suggested priorities and would be looking for suggestions from the council in the coming weeks and months.

“Obviously this positive news is very recent, so we will be working very hard in the coming days and weeks to ensure we utilize these funds according to the laws and needs of our community,” he said.

Individual stimulus checks are already being deposited in bank accounts around the country.

The IRS delayed the tax filing deadline by a month this week. The new deadline will be May 17.

With the original April 15 deadline less than a month away, there have been numerous last-minute changes to the tax laws because of the relief bill. One big change made the first $10,200 in unemployment insurance collected in 2020 tax-exempt for many recipients.

The IRS had been under pressure to move the filing deadline by taxpayers and accountants.

Last year, the filing date was pushed back to July because of the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS, which has seen its budgets cut by Congress and its staff reduced in recent years, is still processing millions of paper returns from that year.


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