Local COVID funds used effectively


By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com



Fulton County communities that benefited from funding through the government’s Coronavirus Relief Fund have made concerted efforts to put the money to good use.

Established through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and signed into law March 27 by President Donald Trump, the fund provided payments to state, local, and tribal governments to counter the impact of COVID-19. The CARES Act required the assistance be used only for expenditures incurred due to the pandemic, those not included in the receiving entity’s budget, and those incurred during the period between March 1 and Dec. 30.

The amount each entity received was based on population. All unencumbered money must be returned to the county by Nov. 20.

Fulton County entities that responded to inquiries about COVID Relief Fund included the county itself. Administrator Vond Hall reported the county received about $2.5 million from the relief fund. To date, about $1.55 million has gone toward small business grants to help the businesses stay afloat, coronavirus relief supplies and equipment. Purchases included: video conference equipment for remote court appearances; increased fiber bandwidth; IT switches and installation so employees could work remotely; and safety barriers at county offices, such as Plexiglas partitions.

The funding also has covered county payroll COVID expense reimbursements for personnel who experienced COVID in the workplace or aren’t able to telework from home when necessary.

The Village of Swanton has about $100,000 remaining of the $261,959 it received in three payments through the COVID Relief Fund over the summer and fall. The funds have purchased automating doors, automating faucets, and touchless water fountains in the village municipal building to prevent unnecessary surface contact, although the majority has gone to public safety wages for police, fire, and EMS personnel.

Some was also spent on laptops used by village employees who worked at home after the pandemic caused the building to close between March and May.

“Even though people could potentially work from home they didn’t have the equipment,” Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said. “We were still able to provide services and keep the village rolling. It’s a testament to how devoted the employees are.”

She said at that time employees used email and cell phones to communicate. “We tried to think outside the box as best we could,” Hoelzle said.

Archbold Village Administrator Donna Dettling said the village has received three payments, two initial payments totaling $130,559.82 and a third totaling $151,998.58. Funds have been spent on COVID supplies such as masks, gloves, disinfectant, and Plexiglas barriers. They also have been used to cover sick leave through the Family First Coronavirus Response Act and unbudgeted administrative leave for employees unable to work during the stay-at-home order between March and May.

In Metamora, village administrators received $60,310 in COVID relief funds, and have spent approximately $32,000 of that amount. Items purchased have included hand sanitizer and soap and related dispensers, a no-touch thermometer to test village personnel, cleaning supplies, sneeze screens for village council meetings, a John Deere all-terrain vehicle to sanitized outdoor playground equipment, and high-grade furnace filters.

Interim Deputy Clerk Angie Smith said COVID funds were also used for administrative services related to the funding, and $5,000 was used to purchase goods for the CAST food pantry in the Evergreen Local Schools district. As to whether the village will receive additional COVID assistance, “We currently have no expectations,” she said.

By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.