Gallatin County Courthouse File

The Gallatin County Courthouse is shown in this August 14, 2018, file photo.

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Gallatin County spent between $2 and $2.6 million on its response to the coronavirus between March 12 and the end of May.

The county is now seeking reimbursement for those expenses through a new state program that allows local governments to request money for costs associated with COVID-19. The state grant program is funded with money Gov. Steve Bullock set aside from the $1.25 billion Montana received from the federal coronavirus relief package.

A significant portion of the county’s request is for salaries and overtime work performed by employees in the health department and with emergency management.

Gallatin County is also requesting reimbursement from the state on behalf of other groups, including the Hebgen Basin and Central Valley fire districts, which means the county’s total request to the state will likely be between $3 and $3.4 million.

The county can — and likely will — ask for compensation from the state for COVID-19 costs again in July, September and December as its response to the virus continues.

“This is a fluid situation,” said Don Seifert, a county commissioner.

The reimbursements could be a significant portion of its annual budget, which is about $143 million.

“This could complicate our budget,” Seifert said.

All local governments — including cities and towns — must have submitted their reimbursement requests to the state by Friday. The state will review the requests in the coming weeks and plans to distribute the initial grant money within a month.

The local government grant program is one of about a dozen the governor has created with the $1.25 billion he received from the federal government. Bullock has allocated only a fraction of the money so far.

As part of the federal coronavirus response, Congress has also given money to support specific areas such as public health and K-12 schools. On Friday, Bullock announced that $8.7 million in federal money would go to education institutions across Montana.

The Montana University System received $6.5 million to the One-Two-Free program to offer free dual enrollment courses to high school students, to pay for technology upgrades and to offer workforce training.

The Montana State Library received $500,000 to expand its mobile services.

The Montana Digital Academy was awarded $230,000 to grow enrollment and expand its offerings.

Several colleges — including Carroll College, Rocky Mountain College and University of Providence — also were provided money to offer remote learning and to upgrade technology.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.