ANDOVER — Village council is going back to the drawing boards on how to spend $86,000 in CARES Act funding provided by the federal government and funneled through the state of Ohio to battle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andover Mayor Jerry DiBell and council members were hoping to provide some of the money to sole proprietorships due to the effects of last spring’s shutdown.

Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas attended the meeting to help council clear up confusion in the way the funds may be spent. He advised council not to give businesses money directly but could help them out with specific amounts for improvements to help them fight the virus.

Thomas said there are 27 townships and nine different municipalities [and] “We are kind of all looking at this is a different way.”

He also told village leaders that the money must be encumbered by Nov. 20 or it goes back to the county to distribute to government entities.

Thomas said the village should document spending as much as possible.

“The idea was not for ‘fill in the blank’ money, but to fight the virus,” he said.

Village councilman E. Curt Williams asked Thomas if money given to businesses was taxable and Thomas said it would be taxable. Williams said the village put an application together for business review and there wasn’t a great response because some proprietors didn’t trust the government program.

Williams asked Thomas how to protect the village during this process.

“The brunt of the ax will strike on the neck of this village,” he said of possible auditing that may be done by the state or federal government.

“The safest way is to pay for public safety. ... Whatever you are looking to do  it needs to be done very soon,” Thomas said.

DiBell said he plans to call a special council meeting to review options for using CARES Act funding.

In other business

• Village council gave the green light to an idea proposed by Andover Public Library officials.

Nancy Logan and Maria Firkaly, library employees, were seeking permission to build a “mini-library” at the village’s baseball field so people could borrow and donate books for the community. Logan said the program has been successful in five area townships and thought it would be good to add to the village.

“I think it is a great idea,” Williams said.

DiBell said the village would be glad to help pick a spot for the “mini-library” and assist if needed.

“We will continue to put books in it [but], we hope it will become self-filling,” Logan said of donations.

The wooden structure would be built with donations from board member Don Eyring. She said board member Donald Dismukes also plans to provide a lighting system for the structure.

Logan said the library is presently open by appointment only but hopes to open to a maximum of 25 patrons at a time after physical changes are made inside to foster social distancing. She said residents may also make appointments to conduct teleconferencing medical appointments.

• Village council also discussed emergency medical coverage for Community Care Ambulance and CARES Act funding possibilities for the village fire department.

• Also discussed was the need for a new fire truck that could cost between $450,000 and $500,000.

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