ASHTABULA — City Council opened the door for the city to receive about $650,000 to pay for safety adjustments in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding is made possible under Ohio Senate Bill 310 and the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Those acts are the government’s efforts to help communities cope with the pandemic.
City Council passed a resolution at its June 15 meeting to receive and spend the federal funds. President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act into law on March 27.
City Manager Jim Timonere said he believes the city will receive about $650,000 to cover costs consistent with the requirements of the CARES Act from March 21, 2020 to Dec. 30, 2020.
“I know we can use it for expenses tied to the [city] Health Department, but I’m not sure what else,” he said. “We haven’t seen the actual breakdown yet and it’s still unclear how we can use the money other than it cannot be lost revenue replacement.”
City Director of Finance Traci Welch recommended the creation of a special revenue fund, called “Local Coronavirus Relief,” in order to account for the costs and requirements of the federal money. The recommendation was unanimously adopted by council members.
“At a later date, we will come back and appropriate the money,” she said.
City officials could use the funds to pay for such items as protective shields in city offices for employees. This would serve to protect city employees and the public when visiting the Municipal Building or Justice Center.
Ashtabula City Health Commissioner Christine Hill said some drug stores will be offering tests for COVID-19, with the closest at CVS and Rite Aid in Painesville and Niles.
“We are gradually opening more and more [businesses, restaurants, bars and other gathering places],” she said. “We are busy helping people reopen safely.”
Council President John Roskovics complimented area restaurants on their cleanliness, spacing of tables and sanitizing.
Timonere said Key Bank plans to reopen in the Municipal Building on June 29.
“Most people are happy to comply,” Hill said. “We have been very aggressive in keeping these numbers [of cases] down.”