Tim Theaker

Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- Mansfield City Council approved $845,193.07 in a second round of CARES Act relief fund expenditures Tuesday night, the bulk of which will be used for equipment in the fire, police and building maintenance departments.

Mayor Tim Theaker said the city was told about a week ago the additional COVID-19 funds were coming, dollars approved by Congress in March that are being passed down to local governments by the state.


He said the same restrictions are in place. The costs must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30. The expenditures must have been incurred as a result of the public health emergency and were not accounted for in the city's approved 2020 budget.

The expenses must also be encumbered by mid October and goods/services must be received by Dec. 28.

"I am very excited the city is getting (the additional funds)," Theaker said. "If additional money becomes available, we have shown the ability to use the money to offset the effects of the COVID virus."

The city received and spent $1.69 million in the first round in August. The new funds increase the city's total to just more than $2.5 million. Theaker said the city has been told another $1.6 million could be coming once the state has approved it.

The mayor said the city has not been able to afford many capital expenditures in recent years and the CARES Act is allowing it to make such investments.

Included in the expenditures council approved Tuesday:

-- $267,617 to the fire department, which will spend $246,477.15 on a "5-power load and cot system" that will allow paramedics to better keep a distance from suspected COVID-19 infected patients.

-- $247,380 for building maintenance, including $193,296 for digital controls for the Municipal Building's HVAC system, aimed at "COVID air purification."

-- $178,586 for the police department, including $66,803.30 for a new "neutralize virus patrol car." The city purchased two such vehicles with the first round of CARES Act funds. The interior of the vehicles can be raised temporarily to 133 degrees for 15 minutes to kill any coronavirus after the transport of someone suspected of having COVID-19.

Theaker said his office worked with the finance and law directors to create the list.

"We don't want to do something that when we get audited next year that we have to pay it back from the general fund," the mayor said.

Also on Tuesday, City Council:

-- approved an ordinance allowing the city to use the "construction manager at risk" during the building of public improvements. The manager would participate in the design process and could then perform the work or sub-contract all or parts of the project.

-- gave a second reading to an amended proposal allowing Mansfield to enter into a contract with Debt Recovery Solutions. That entity would be the third-party debt collection agent for the city to collect delinquent water and sewer accounts.

A vote on the proposal is planned at council's next meeting Oct. 6. Public Works Director Dave Remy told council Mansfield has about 6,400 such accounts in arrears, totaling more than $4 million. He acknowledged most of that money is not recoverable, but said he hoped 25 percent could be recouped.

--  gave a first reading to a proposal expressing "approval and support" for the administration's $29 million city parks master plan. The 78-page document was developed by EMH&T, a Columbus-based company that has designed development and public works projects since 1926.

-- gave a first reading on a plan to divest 10 of the city's most lightly-used parks to the Richland County Land Bank, a proposal first introduced in January. 

-- heard a report from Fire Chief Steve Strickling, who is also a physician's assistant, regarding the impact of COVID-19 in Mansfield and Richland County.

Strickling said Richland County has done a good job of keeping the virus down in the last six months. He said there have 762 positive tests, 101 of which have needed hospitalizations, including 33 in ICU units. He said 682 people have recovered and there have been 18 deaths.

"When you contrast those numbers with the state, our numbers in Richland County pale by comparison," Strickling said.

He said the fire department has come into contact with 56 of the positive-test patients, pointing out most were found in "hot spots" like long-term care facilities and the two state prisons in the city.

The chief said he is concerned local numbers could rise as schools re-open and is also concerned residents could become complacent.

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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?"