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Today, more than 1,300 Ohio towns are insured with a portion of the $ 422 million US bailout funds sent to the state. This follows a bill signed in June by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
Despite a bipartisan effort by the Ohio Congressional delegation to clear up the confusion earlier, Ohio was one of eight states forced to determine whether townships were included in funding for “ineligible units of local government.” .
Without the state’s action, a large portion of the state’s township residents would have been harmed, said Heidi M. Fought, executive director of the Ohio Township Association.
“With townships providing essential services to four million Ohioans, they are in desperate need of these funds, as are cities and towns,” she said.
The townships and small towns in Clark County are expected to receive a total of approximately $ 7.3 million. Those in Champaign County will receive $ 2.8 million. On top of that, Urbana is expected to receive $ 1.2 million.
The townships of the two counties were initially excluded due to an error in the eligibility process, the News-Sun previously reported.
The $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package signed in March by President Joe Biden included $ 350 billion in assistance to local governments coping with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
These funds are also designed to help cover lost income, strengthen public infrastructure and help households, workers and businesses affected by the pandemic.
However, some directors say the advice they received this week regarding these funds is vague and they require clarification.
They also want to allocate funds to projects that could help improve infrastructure in their area. Current guidelines refer to efforts to improve water supply and sewage systems as well as broadband access.
Moorefield Township Administrator Daren Cotter said they were still in the process of determining which projects meet federal guidelines for those relief dollars.
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Township of Moorefield. is expected to receive most of the US bailout funds set aside for the townships in Clark County.
The township expects to receive a total of $ 1.265 million. Next are Bethel Twp., Which is expected to receive $ 1.261 million, and Springfield Twp., Which will receive $ 1.237 million.
Most of the money going to the townships in Champaign County will go to Urbana Twp., Which is expected to receive $ 318,443.
Cotter said he and his fellow Trustees would like this money to go to infrastructure projects. For his township, that would mean improving and maintaining roads since the sewer and water systems are largely maintained by the county.
However, road projects are currently excluded in terms of how this relief money is to be spent. Cotter said this prompted township administrators to also wait and see if those guidelines change in the near future.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out how we can spend this money. It’s pretty restrictive right now. Most cantons would like to spend this money on infrastructure, ”he added.
Cotter said they plan to invest the money in projects that will help the township in the long run and won’t just be another repeat expense.
“We are looking to do what is best for the residents of our township,” he said.
Previous relief dollars in Moorefield Township. from the CARES Act focused on security in the midst of the coronavirus.
This included the purchase of personal protective equipment and additional vehicles for road service so these employees did not have to ride together.
Cotter said it was in order to maintain social distancing during the height of the pandemic. The coronavirus relief money was also used to cover the salary expenses of firefighters and EMS personnel.
Township of Moorefield. received approximately $ 536,000 in CARES Act money.
In Bethel Township, administrators are still determining how US bailout funds will be spent.
Nancy Brown, a township administrator, said they started reviewing the guidelines for that money this week and it will be some time before they have a full list of expenses.
Right now, Bethel Township administrators are reviewing several different projects that could be funded once these federal relief funds are allocated.
Brown said not all expenses have to be related to the coronavirus, unlike funding from the CARES Act, which mainly covered direct expenses resulting from the pandemic.
Brown said projects she and her fellow administrators would consider include upgrades to Park Layne’s stormwater drainage system, with some of those items needing replacement.
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The money could also be spent on improving or maintaining parks in the township, such as Raynor and Styer parks.
Those improvements could come in the form of landscaping, adding play equipment and repairs to walking trails, Brown said.
“We are looking to use the money to maintain and improve what we have,” she added.
However, Brown noted that it will be some time before anything is set in stone. She said the directors are still coming up with potential ideas for the money and this will need to be discussed further.
“We have to check that whatever we want to do qualifies,” she said.
It was a sentiment shared by John Roeder, administrator of Springfield Twp.
He said there would be meetings in his commune to discuss these funds as well as an effort to get more information on how they can be spent.
Editor Chris Stewart contributed to this report.
By the numbers
$ 7.3 million: amount towns and villages in Clark County will receive in relief funds
$ 2.8 M: Amount that the townships of the county of Champaign will receive
1,300: number of townships, formerly excluded from Ohio, which will now receive funds