Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 21, to state that the village of Silver Lake is planning to spend $8,881.50 to purchase and install a security door at Village Hall. The story previously listed an incorrect cost figure.
CUYAHOGA FALLS — The city is receiving nearly $3 million in COVID-19 relief funds from state and county sources, while the village will see $170,000 in assistance.
Cuyahoga Falls City spokesperson Kelli Crawford-Smith said the municipality received $1.57 million in late June after Gov. Mike DeWine signed state House Bill 481 into law. House Bill 481 is the legislation being used by the Ohio General Assembly to distribute $350 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to communities. Crawford-Smith added that Cuyahoga Falls is also supposed to be awarded another $1.4 million in CARES Act money from Summit County.
"We are grateful to be able to receive CARES Act funds given the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on city revenues and we are hopeful that we will be able to utilize these funds to keep our safety forces at full strength," said Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters.
Crawford-Smith added the administration is speaking with the auditor of state’s office and the county to determine if CARES Act money can be used for safety personnel expenses.
"We are hopeful that we will receive approval in the next week or two, if not sooner," stated Crawford-Smith.
City council on June 15 approved legislation to authorize receipt of the $1.57 million in state money and to create a fund where the the money was deposited. Council is expected to vote on a similar measure this month to accept the $1.4 million from the county, according to Crawford-Smith.
Village of Silver Lake
Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey said the village is expected to receive $170,000 in CARES Act funding.
Potential uses for the money include: purchasing laptops for village hall employees so they could work from home (which they are unable to do now); buying iPads for council members and other officials so that video meetings could occur via Zoom or a similar platform. Council is currently meeting via teleconference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clerk-Treasurer Sean Housley said he is "certain" that the CARES Act money can be used to purchase these devices.
Housley added that based on the information he received from the state’s Office of Budget and Management (OBM), he does not believe the village can use CARES Act money for police wages. According to information from OBM, CARES Act money can be used for public safety expenses that are "substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. … OBM generally defines a benchmark for identifying substantial dedication to be a contribution of 50% or more of time."
Housley said none of the village’s police officers spend more than 50% of their work time responding to COVID-19 issues.
The village is installing a security door in Village Hall. Hovey said his administration feels "we can make a good argument to use the [CARES Act] money on the security door," but are awaiting confirmation.
Whether CARES Act funds can be used or not, the mayor emphasized that the village is spending $8,881.50 to purchase and install the security door.
"We decided we needed that," said Hovey, who added the door should be installed some time in the next couple of months by ProDoor Security.
The security door would be located inside the Village Hall lobby near the mayor’s office and the stairwell that leads into the police department. The door would be locked and visitors would use an intercom system to communicate with village hall staff, who would press a button to unlock the door. Housley said the set-up would allow employees "to ask questions and screen" visitors before allowing them to fully enter the building.
Hovey said council is expected to act on legislation to receive the CARES Act money at its next meeting on July 20.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.