COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday, which would bring $650 million to the state through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, of which $14 million would go to District 14, including Adams, Brown, Clermont, Scioto and parts of Lawrence counties.
Passed unanimously, the aid would assist counties, townships, villages and cities with coronavirus-related expenses. Among the 27 co-sponsors, Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, saw the bill as essential for the community.
“COVID-19 has caused all of our communities to struggle and are in desperate need of relief,” Johnson said in a released statement. “These funds are essential to those on our front lines as we look to rebuild and recover in response to this pandemic.”
SB 357 is the state’s third rollout of coronavirus relief, originally approving $350 million from House Bill 481 in June and the Ohio Controlling Board’s authorization of $175 million Aug. 24. Totaling $1.17 billion, the state still has more than $2 billion in reserve from CARES Act funding.
1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne said past funding was used by the city to procure more coronavirus testing kits, afford city services, and boost local businesses and nonprofits. With knowledge rapidly evolving on the virus, money from this bill will likely go to new avenues.
“The ability to purchase a large amount of testing kits at a lower cost is now more available than it has been in the past,” said Dunne. “I think we can now spend money on allowing more people to work remotely and to allow more opportunities for consumers to purchase goods and services outdoors.”
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, expenditures from the act are required to meet the following criteria:
1. Deemed necessary expenditures due to the coronavirus public health emergency.
2. Not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020, the date of the act’s passing, for the State or government.
3. Spent during the period beginning March 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 30, 2020.
Approximately receiving $4.53 billion through the act, 17% of Ohio’s share has gone out to six subdivisions with 500,000 or more populations. These areas- the City of Columbus, and Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery and Summit counties- were permitted to receive funding directly from the federal government of the state’s allocation.
Due to this access, the subdivisions would be excluded from this bill, although townships and municipalities within these areas are still eligible for the funding.
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio said local governments have used past aid to provide grants to local businesses, gain access to more PPE supplies, and to public health departments.
“Without this infusion of federal funds, these relief efforts would not be possible. Local government budgets are facing weakened revenue streams and increasing costs,” said the CCAO in a released statement. “These federal resources are needed to continue coronavirus relief efforts, reenergize local economies and provide stability for local government operations.”
In Portsmouth, the CARES Act has provided funding for multiple organizations. $30,000 went to the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport and another $377,514 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants toward the Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority in April.
“Local airports are fundamental to serving our families and businesses, and they need support during these challenging times—especially with tightened travel recommendations,” said U.S. Congressman Brad Wenstrup, R-Columbia-Tusculum of the airport funding. “This funding will help keep employees on the payroll and hangars open until we’re through this health crisis.”
The legislation includes an emergency clause, making the bill effective immediately upon being signed by Governor Mike DeWine. The bill will now be sent to the Ohio House for consideration.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times