Clark, Champaign counties, cities to receive more than $86M in new stimulus money

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark and Champaign counties along with their cities and villages could be receiving more than $86 million in federal relief funding as part of a recent stimulus package signed into law.

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law this month. As a result, $350 billion will be allocated to help local governments across the country reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clark County government is slated to receive an estimated $26 million. Champaign County government is expected to get $7.5 million.

In addition to those county allotments, the City of Springfield is expected to get the largest share in the area and is slated to receive over $47 million.

Cities in Clark and Champaign counties such as New Carlisle and Urbana are expected to get a little over $1 million and $2 million respectively. Villages will be allocated money as well. Places like Bethel and South Charleston could receive $550,000 and $320,000 respectively.

But, townships remain excluded from the distribution of American Rescue Plan funds unless a change is made by the U.S. Treasury. It is unclear at this point if those entities will eventually receive that new stimulus money.

For local governments slated to receive the lasted round of federal relief dollars, those allotments are from the latest estimated disbursement list from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

However, it still remains unknown to local officials as to when that funding will be allocated to those governments and how that money can used.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said the city is aware of potential funding from the American Rescue Plan. However, he said there is still a lot of unknowns surrounding it.

That includes what determines the eligibility of local governments to apply for that relief money and what are the guidelines surrounding the use of those funds.

“Money coming from previous bills came with a very specific set of restrictions,” Heck said.

Local governments also received federal relief money last year coming from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, legislation that was passed to help those reeling from the impacts of the pandemic.

There were specific guidelines set up by the federal government relating to that money and there were several deadlines as to when it would have to be spent.

“That money received from state and federal sources was slated for very specific services and could not be used for general operating expenses,” he added.

How much that was allocated at that time was a result of several bills from the Ohio Legislature. It could only be used to address unexpected costs that were a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

That funding could not be used to fill in gaps in general fund budgets due to a drop in tax collections and other revenue sources for local governments.

But, money could also be set aside to aid residents and local businesses who had their income directly affected as a result of the pandemic.

The City of Springfield received a total of $5.2 million in local government funds using CARES Act money. Clark County received a total of $7.5 million in federal relief money last year.

However, federal guidance has yet to be released that clarifies when and how the lastest round of relief money coming in the form of the American Rescue Plan is to be spent by local governments.

“Until we have the parameters given by the (U.S. Department of the Treasury), we don’t know what we can use it for,” said Urbana Mayor Bill Bean. “There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. We are still in the dark. Time will tell.”

Elsewhere in Champaign County, the village administrator for St. Paris, Spencer Mitchell, said that conversations with the Ohio Municipal League this month indicated that money could be arriving within the next 60 days.

In Clark County, South Charleston’s Village Manager Trecia Waring said the village has been given no information regarding Stimulus funds.

“If and when the Village of South Charleston receives these funds, the commission will discuss and decide how best to use it,” she said.

Officials with Clark County’s governmental body said something similar, noting that until further guidance is given they remain unsure on how that money will be spent.

Previous allotments from the CARES Act were used by Clark County to cover personnel costs and equipment for remote work and establish programs that dealt with small businesses as well as rental and utility assistance.

About $200,000 was allocated to provide residents who qualified with rental and utility assistance. An additional $300,000 was allocated to help small businesses with less than 50 employees as well as local nonprofits.

Heck said in regards to Springfield, the city hopes to utilize new stimulus funds, if received, in a manner “that helps our overall community move forward together and recover from the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic.”

Heck said that the pandemic has had an immediate economic impact in the area, including on residents as well as businesses and local community organizations.

CARES Act allocations received by the city last year went towards covering payroll expenses for Springfield firefighters and police officers.

Those expenses relate to hours brought on due to the pandemic, as well as overtime and quarantine leave.

CARES Act allocations also went towards costs needed to allow employees to perform remote work during the pandemic as well as adding barriers and other safety features to public spaces.

Continuing coverage

The Springfield News-Sun will continue to cover the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Clark and Champaign Counties and how communities use federal stimulus funds to aid their recovery.