A total of $1.1 million in COVID-19 assistance through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act relieves pressure in light of this year’s substantially lower revenues linked to the virus, Finance Director Matthew Rubino said last week.
“In a year like 2020 where our general revenue is substantially lower than previous years, this relieves a lot of pressure,” he said.
Solon lost about $5 million in revenue due to the pandemic and made cuts to its budget amounting to $2.7 million from the general fund this year as a result.
The city received a payment of $323,000 through the CARES Act and second payment of $820,000 is forthcoming. CARES Act funding is used to offset costs associated with the coronavirus.
No additional COVID-19 assistance is expected for 2021, Mr. Rubino said.
The first round of payments was distributed based on the local government fund formula, which takes into account population as well as utilization of county public assistance, Mr. Rubino explained.
“It favors communities with less than average income,” he said. “The idea is to target those dollars to those who need it more.” Communities like Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights received about $700,000 in that first round.
The second round was granted based strictly on per capita, which resulted in Solon receiving a larger payment, he said.
The city has focused the COVID-19 funding on several areas, including personal protective equipment and related products. All of the city buildings received sanitation equipment.
Funds were also used for budding modifications in the area of HVAC and ventilation, as well as changing the configurations of buildings with the use of plexiglass barriers.
Air purification units, amounting to $8,000 each, were installed in different locations throughout city buildings as well, Mr. Rubino said.
Funds were also eligible to be used for meal delivery assistance for the Solon Senior Center as well as to assist employees with remote work, including the purchase of additional laptops or any type of video conference equipment.
“We are really doing whatever we can to make the city operations and buildings COVID-resilient,” Mr. Rubino said.
The intent is to spend the total of the $1.1 million, with funds needing to be obligated by Nov. 25 and spent by year’s end.
Mr. Rubino did note that the federal government is looking at possibly extending the spend down requirement to give cities more time to utilize the money efficiently.
“That has not happened yet, but there has been some talk in the U.S. Senate, but no official action has been taken,” he said. “We are cautiously optimistic they will include that in future legislation.”
Solon is also upgrading any HVAC filtration as well as installed UV disinfectant lights in HVAC systems.
The city will be subject to an audit in relation to this funding, Mr. Rubino continued, and it will fall under the purview of their annual audit.
“They won’t look at every transaction but (making sure) we followed the basic provision of how we spent this money,” he said.