Richland County courthouse

Richland County Courthouse

MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners may have between $250,000 and $500,000 in additional CARES Act funds to allocate.

The actual amount will be determined once a final accounting of local government entities participation in the COVID-19 relief funding effort is completed.

Under the federal and state guidelines in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act -- the $2.2 trillion stimulus legislation approved by Congress in March -- each county, municipality, village and township in Ohio's 88 counties were eligible to spend funds.

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Those expenditures had to be related to the pandemic and could not be simply added to the entity's already planned 2020 budget.

The amount of CARES Act dollars received depended upon the size of the governmental entity and its annual budget. Richland County, for example, received $7.4 million. The City of Mansfield received about $4.2 million.

Some local, smaller governments chose not to participate in the program, perhaps due to restrictions placed on the money.

The deadline to encumber the funds is Nov. 20 and all goods/services obtained through the funds must be received by Dec. 30.

As of a month ago, Richland County commissioners said Thursday, it appeared that local governments had declined to spend just over $1 million dollars.

A percentage of those unused funds is returned to the county. 

"Depending on the percentage of local governments that participated, Richland County will receive either 25 percent or 50 percent of that unused money," Commissioner Tony Vero said.

Vero said the county would get 50 percent of the $1 million if fewer than 25 percent of eligible local governments participated in the relief funding. If more than 25 percent participated, the percentage coming back to the county dips to 25 percent.

County Auditor Pat Dropsey, working with the state Office of Management and Budget, will determine the actual participation and amount of money coming back to the county in the next several days.

Commissioners will then have to decide how to spend the additional funds, maintaining the Dec. 30 guideline on receiving goods/services.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"