Bexley council acts to claim relief funds, assist employees

CHRIS BOURNEA
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ThisWeek group

The city of Bexley plans to use $671,000 in federal COVID-19 coronavirus relief funding to cover the salaries of city employees whose work has been affected by the pandemic, city auditor Bill Harvey said.

The federal funding "covers expenses through the end of this year," Harvey said.

On June 23, Bexley City Council voted 7-0 to approve amended Resolution 5-20, enabling the city to receive its share of funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Council's resolution states that House Bill 481 of the 133rd Ohio General Assembly established a process for distributing CARES Act funds to municipalities throughout Ohio.

"HB 481 requires subdivisions receiving funds under Section 1 of the Act, to pass a resolution affirming that funds received from the County Coronavirus Relief Distribution Fund may be expended only to cover costs (associated with the pandemic)," the amended resolution states.

Amounts paid to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and eligible units of local government are based on population, as provided in the CARES Act, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury's website, treasury.gov. The most recent U.S. Census in 2010 lists Bexley's population as 13,854.

Harvey said the city has not yet estimated how much of the $671,000 will be spent on coronavirus-related expenses, but the city will use the funds to cover salaries of employees who have worked staggered schedules since mid-March.

"It looks like we're going to be able to use that for certain employees we have not working to make sure we didn't have too many employees exposed" to each other, in order to promote social distancing, he said.

Harvey said one example is that when weekend storms battered central Ohio in mid-July, the city did not call service-department workers who were off-duty that week and instead hired outside workers to clear debris and perform other tasks that city employees normally would carry out.

"This funding will cover that," he said.

Amended Resolution 5-20 states that Dec. 28 of this year, the city "must pay the balance of any money in the city of Bexley's local coronavirus relief fund to the state treasury."

"Any unused funds will be returned to the state, which will return the money to the federal government," Harvey said.

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