Richland County Commissioners Approve Rules for Federal COVID Relief Funds

Richland County Commissioners have established policies and procedures that must be in place for them to spend the county’s initial $ 11.7 million in US federal allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act on specific purchases. Documents approved on Tuesday include specific dollar thresholds that require a tender for the project.

“Not only will these procedures be useful in guiding the purchases that commissioners make through ARPA, but it also happens to be a document that must be put in place by federal law,” said the County Administrator Andrew Keller. Keller worked in the county attorney’s office, advising county agencies on legal matters and reviewing contracts before being hired for the new position earlier this month..

As part of the policies and procedures, the Commissioners passed resolutions establishing $ 250,000 as the minimum purchase amount that triggers the federal procurement process and $ 50,000 as the minimum to trigger less formal bidding requirements. of State. “Anytime you can align the federal requirements with the requirements of state law, you want to take advantage of it because it will allow consistency in county operations,” Keller explained. “In other words, the way the county would normally do procurement, it can continue to do it that way, but obviously for the purposes of our federal procurement there are still a lot of additional requirements.”

Earlier this month, the commissioners voted to commit up to $ 2 million in ARPA funds to support a request by Charter Communications, doing business as Spectrum, for funds from the Extension Grant program. Ohio residential broadband. They also voted in September to use $ 1 million in ARPA funds for the Richland House to administer another round of grants for businesses hard hit by the COVID pandemic and designated an additional $ 3.2 million for recover the revenue the county lost in 2020 due to the pandemic. .

“These actions represent priorities and commitments, but they are not legally binding as a contract will be after the contract is concluded,” Keller told the News Journal. “We haven’t signed any contracts yet, in part because they (the commissioners) understood that we had to clean up federal procurement first and that was part of what happened this past. morning.”

Noble Road Upgrades Fund

In other cases, the commissioners met with Richland County Solid Waste District Executive Director Eddie Hale, who told the board of directors that the district plans to defer $ 150,000 until next year which have been allocated in the 2021 budget to help cover the cost of upgrades to Noble Route at the entrances to Rumpke Landfill. He said work was scheduled for last summer but has been postponed to 2022.

County engineer Adam Gove told the News Journal that plans for the project had just been completed, making work too late, which will improve Noble Road from the original entrance to Rumpke landfill. off Ohio 13 to a new entrance about 1,300 feet from the road. . He said this section of the road had “collapsed” because it was not built for heavy truck traffic.

The reconstruction will include an asphalt pavement with stabilization of the cement floor below at an estimated cost of $ 550,000. Gove said he also plans to widen Noble Road from 13 to the first ride, which would bring the total cost to $ 900,000 to $ 1 million.

Funding will come from a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission, the Solid Waste Allocation, and the County Roads and Bridges Fund.

Hale said the district’s five-year plan allows funds to be allocated for improvements to Noble Road if the money is available. The current cash balance is $ 2.5 million and is expected to reach $ 2.7 million by the end of the year.

Hale was asked if the district plans to use part of the cash balance to pay for a proposal made by the Town of Mansfield at a recent District Governing Board meeting to hire an enforcement officer from the environmental law to deal with illegal dumping of waste in the city and county. “This is something that we certainly still have on the back burner. We just need to do more research on this, ”Hale said. “My goal at the start of 2022 is to start visiting townships, attending township meetings and bringing up the subject in townships. “

Commissioners also heard from Laser Road resident David Yetzer who expressed concern over the Black Fork Ditch petition that aims to clear 18 miles of the river from fallen trees and debris to help reduce flooding in the Shelby area. “I have no problem with the flooding and am assessed,” he said.

Yetzer questioned the cost of investigative work a joint committee of commissioners authorized last week, the initial cost estimate for the entire project, and the assessments for any follow-up interviews. “Farmers are taking the fruits of my labor without my vote and my contribution,” he said.

Commissioner Cliff Mears noted that runoff from his property contributes to flooding problems downstream. Commissioner Tony Vero said the petition was presented by the mayor of Shelby and 63 landowners, noting that the mayor represented nearly 9,000 residents of the town.

“It’s not just you individually. These are all the parcels of the watershed, ”Vero said. “We can’t make the decision based on how much profit you get from it. “

Vero also explained that the cost figures discussed so far are only estimates and that the county engineer is working to put together exact figures that will be presented at a public hearing in May. “If the cost exceeds the benefits, we can’t approve the project, period,” he said.


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