Investigation of Fairborn COVID funds award to candidate’s business continues

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

An investigation into Fairborn awarding federal COVID relief money to a local business owner running for city council this fall is expected to conclude “by mid next week,” a city official said.

Fairborn Solicitor Mike McNamee told the Dayton Daily News the inquiry started last week. But city administration officials — McNamee included — and the mayor did not respond earlier this week to other specific questions posed to them about the issue.

Fairborn officials will have “no further comment until the investigation is completed,” McNamee said.

The city revealed Oct. 20 it had an “ongoing investigation” following questions by this news organization. The questions were raised after it obtained Fairborn American Rescue Plan Act funding documents through a public records request.

The documents involved ARPA funds given to a business operated by city council candidate Sylvia Chess.

The Citizens for Fairborn’s Future community group claimed earlier this month that Chess, owner of Xtra Pro-Dev 101 Centre, LLC, received $10,000 in ARPA funding for a small business grant for which the company was not qualified.

The city required recipients of those small business grants to be companies that had been operating on Jan. 1, 2020, according to Fairborn records.

The filing date of articles of organization for Xtra Pro-Dev 101 Centre, LLC, listing Chess as the agent, was July 1, 2020, Ohio Secretary of State documents show.

The same day the investigation was publicly revealed, Fairborn City Council announced an executive session to be held this past Monday night. It is not clear if the investigation was discussed at the private meeting.

Fairborn Mayor Paul Keller said Monday night the executive session was being held “to consider the compensation of a public employee.”

Aside from Keller and McNamee, all council members except Mary Reaster were in council chambers when the meeting started. City Manager Rob Anderson was not.

Keller said council would not be taking “any action” after the executive session.

Chess is one of five candidates running for Fairborn City Council this fall, with three seats open. The other candidates are incumbents Clint Allen and Tana Stanton, plus challengers James Baker and Katy Carlton.

When asked last week about her business receiving the grant, Chess did not address any questions from the Dayton Daily News and abruptly ended the telephone call.

The city, like some others, is using federal money to help Fairborn small businesses recover from the pandemic. The city received about $6.8 million in ARPA money, $250,000 of which was designated for small business grants, Fairborn records show.

Fairborn last year awarded $10,000 each — the maximum amount — to six small businesses, Dayton Daily News records show.

The city told Chess on Feb. 7, 2023 her company at 440 W. Main St. would be receiving a $10,000 small business grant during the second round of awards, Fairborn emails show.

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