After the extension of American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, eligibility to townships in Ohio, Bainbridge is expecting to receive about $1.2 million from the latest COVID-19 relief funds.

Fiscal Officer Janice Sugarman said townships were originally not included in the relief plan, but with the help of the Ohio Township Association and state legislatures, including Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chester, and Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, this is no longer the case.

“This is kind of an extension of the CARES Act money we [received] last year,” she explained during the July 12 meeting. “It’s in the same vein, although there’s different parameters for usage for this time. We can actually use it for our community in areas that may have been hurt by the [pandemic].”

Trustee Chairman Jeff Markley explained that the Coalition of Large Ohio Urban Townships, or CLOUT, is discussing potential open house discussions or conference calls to help local officials determine judicious uses of COVID-19 funds.

Trustee Lorrie Benza added that the Ohio Township Association also plans to hold seminars to aid townships in potential uses for the funds.

Mrs. Sugarman said that while the money doesn’t come to the township through the county this time around, the county will also assist communities with proper use of the funds.

Before receiving the funds, she explained, the township needs to submit an application to the Ohio Office of Budget and Management by Sept. 4. As far as using the funds, there’s a lot more flexibility compared to the tight deadlines of the initial CARES Act funds.

Mrs. Sugarman said the township must determine how they’re going to use it by 2024. “And then you can spend the money through 2026,” she added. “There’s a long-term process on this.”

The trustees agreed to hold off on signing for the application until their next regular meeting, July 26, with uncertainties on who would be the authorized official and authorized representative.

With the long-term deadlines for the use of the funds, Mrs. Benza asked if the township should sign by position as opposed to name.

“With milestone deadlines of 2024 and 2026, we could have totally different people sitting in these seats,” Mrs. Benza said of the township board. “So do we identify somebody by name or do we identify somebody by position?”

Mrs. Sugarman suggested the trustees wait to sign for the application and said the township should consult a legal adviser to ensure a proper submission of the application.

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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