BAINBRIDGE — Township officials accepted the third installment in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money from the state with more than $412,000 and are looking to potential subgrantees to spend it before the Nov. 20 deadline.
The township had already accepted about $56,000 in September and about $113,000 in July in CARES Act money, which they have placed in an established Local Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Fiscal Officer Janice Sugarman said the township is “good” for the first round of CARES Act funding and noted that officials need to get together to write memos for the “second chunk.” She asked if the township needs to consider sub-granting the money from the most recent installment, which came at the approval of House Bill 614, to area nonprofits or schools.
“[The funding] is a significant amount of money. My concern was whether or not we’d be able to utilize all of the funds. And if not, I want to be prepared to understand where you guys stand on sub-granting the funds,” she said. “If we determine that we can use this much of it, but we can’t use this much, we’re going to have to move rapidly to make that (sub-granting) happen.”
“We’re talking about $412,000,” Trustee Lorrie Sass Benza said, noting she has been “amazed” at what the money can be spent on.
“I’ve been following the things that the county [has purchased], and I echo Commissioner [Tim] Lennon’s deep concern. We’re buying trucks, we’re buying new cars, they’re buying mini excavators. We just keep buying and buying and buying and buying,” she said. “We’re struggling to spend this money in time and people can’t pay their mortgages and they’re lining up in food banks.”
Mrs. Sugarman and Trustee Jeff Markley noted that the township isn’t struggling to spend the money, necessarily, but spending it within the deadline to ensure it is spent correctly.
If the township feels it can’t spend the money before the deadline, Mrs. Sugarman asked the trustees if they should begin looking to sub-grantees.
“If it goes back [to the state], does it go back to the debt?” Trustee Chairwoman Kristina O’Brien asked. “I would be fine with that.”
“Or does it go back to the county?” Mr. Markley asked.
“See, that’s my concern,” Mrs. O’Brien added.
Mrs. Benza added to another point of the county commissioner, “How much debt do we just keep [incurring]? Who’s going to be paying for it?”
Mrs. Sugarman said she agreed, stating her department was shocked at the number the township received. “But if we can spend it, that’s great. If we can’t I’d like to consider sub-granting it to somebody.”
Mrs. Benza asked what the deadline would be to find subgrantees for the money with the encumbrance deadline for the money Nov. 20.
“If we get the input from the department heads and we’re able to spend what we can spend, timely and correctly, and we still have a chunk that we are considering subgranting, we know that we have certain duties and a sub-grantee would have certain duties,” she said.
Mrs. Sugarman said she would have to consult with the township’s legal counsel to determine what the date would be to get the money to a subgrantee so they would have time to utilize the funds.
Mr. Markley suggested compiling a short list of eligible entities and begin reaching out before they even know how much money they would be granting.
“[We could begin] reaching out to them and saying, ‘Start putting your thinking caps on relative to what you would need from CARES [Act] money that would be legitimate expenditures,’” he said.
Mrs. Sugarman said while the trustees consider a short list of potential subgrantees, she will consult with legal counsel to determine what the deadlines would need to be for them to receive any leftover funds.