Richland County courthouse

Richland County Courthouse

MANSFIELD -- Richland County will likely receive an additional $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds, which county commissioners discussed Tuesday using for payroll reimbursement in the county jail.

"There is nothing the jail has done that hasn't been impacted by COVID-19," Commissioner Tony Vero said. "That's where we want to start (with the second round of funds.)

The county has already received $2 million under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Trump in March 2020 in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

As part of the relief act, some of the funds were allocated to individual states, which has then released some of the money to local governments. 

In order for the county to use the funds, 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. The expenses must be encumbered by mid October.

The state announced Monday the approval of over $175 million in additional funding for COVID-19-related expenses for Ohio’s townships, municipalities and counties. The funding will be distributed based on the proportion of Local Government Fund revenue allocated to them in 2019.

Vero said Richland County would likely follow a similar plan as one utilized in Fairfield County, which would allow reimbursement for payroll and benefits for safety forces working in the county jail during the pandemic.

Vero said he had spoken to county Auditor Pat Dropsey, but wasn't sure when the money would arrive.

"Soon, is my thought. The mechanics are already in place. We are just waiting for the transfer," Vero said.

Vero said he would meet again Friday with the sheriff's department to flesh out details and commissioners could determine how much will be allocated to the payroll reimbursement effort.

With the initial $2 million, commissioners have approved:

-- up to $500,000 for mobile hotspots for schools to aide in online learning.

-- $611,989 to digitize property records in the recorder's office, some dating back to the early 19th century.

-- $275,000 for a small business grant program.

-- $204,030.80 for the sheriff to purchase four marked department vehicles to be equipped specifically to transport arrestees and prisoners who have been confirmed to have or are suspected of being infected with COVID-19; as well as various reimbursements

In other action Tuesday, commissioners:

-- approved the low bid of $667,973 from Sarver Paving Co. of Ashland to repave just under five miles of Possum Run and Windsor roads.

-- approved the renewal of the annual insurance contract with the County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio. The county will pay 2.1 percent less for the plan in the next year, a savings of about $173,000, commissioners said.

-- approved a letter of intent with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio to explore potential solar energy purchases in the future.

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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?"