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Seneca County Commissioners approve $923,175 COVID-19 federal relief fund budget

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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From left: Commissioners Mike Kerschner, Shayne Thomas, and Anthony Paradiso

The Seneca County Board of Commissioners approved a $923,175 budget Thursday that will allow the county to disburse federal money for COVID-19-related expenses.

The funding, which was distributed after the approval of the federal CARES Act and other state legislation, provides about $2 million for political subdivisions across Seneca County.

The county itself is to receive about $923,175, which can be used for any previously unbudgeted county expenses brought about by the current health crisis.

The county has already logged about $550,000 of these expenses since March.

County Administrator Stacy Wilson said she worked with the county auditor’s office to propose the budget, which was unanimously approved by the commissioners Thursday. The budget was necessary to allow the county to begin divvying up the funds to county departments.

Next Thursday at 9 a.m., the commissioners are to meet with county department heads and elected officials to create a system that will allow departments to officially request funding for reimbursement from this pool of money.

Each city, township and village in the county will receive a piece of the remaining money. The amount received by these political subdivisions is based on a formula devised by the state. These entities will then be tasked with creating their own system to reimburse their expenses related to the pandemic.

If subdivisions do not use the funding, it can be returned to other entities within the county based on need. Any funding not used by the end of the year is to be returned to the federal government.

In other business, the board agreed to move ahead with a grant application that could bring approximately $336,000 into the county to fully reimburse funding for a lighting improvement project at the Seneca County Airport.

According to information from the county’s airport consultant, Stantec, the Fiscal Year 2021 Ohio Department of Transportation Direct Grant would lead to the replacement of the existing runway edge lighting and Runway End Identifier Lights (REILS) with new LED equipment.

This project would also replace the existing electrical vault equipment and cabling for the runway lighting circuit. The grant program is competitive and requires that an application be submitted and scored to determine whether a grant will be issued.

The county should know if it received the grant by August of 2020, with the issuance of the grant expected by June of 2021.

Stantec’s current estimate for this project is just about $336,000. The only costs that would not be eligible for reimbursement if the grant is received would include about $2,000 in government application assistance costs.

The commissioners also held a work session Thursday morning to discuss the finances of the Seneca County Opportunity Center.

Center Superintendent Lewis Hurst addressed the board during the meeting. The session was called to examine how the pandemic has affected the financial situation at the agency and was part of ongoing meetings with county departments for the commissioners to stay informed about how the fiscal situation has been affected by the pandemic.

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