City’s finance panel given rescue plan spending info

Ken Lahmers
Special to MyTownNEO

TWINSBURG – Now that some guidelines have been established for spending American Rescue Plan money, city officials plan to discuss in the coming months just how to do that.

At the finance committee’s May 25 meeting, finance director Sarah Buccigross shared some information about how the federal money can be spent.

She focused on COVID-19-related, negative economic impact and premium pay uses. At next month’s meeting, she said she will focus on the infrastructure and revenue replacement uses of the funds.

Buccigross said it originally was estimated the city would receive about $3.7 million in ARP funds, but that was before townships were added to the pool of recipients.

“With more government entities eligible now, our number likely will go down, but we’ll have to wait to see what the final figure is,” she said. “There are a lot more allowed uses for ARP funds than was the case with last year’s CARES Act funding.”

Communities must decide how to spend their money by Dec. 31, 2024, and all of it must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026. They will receive their first payment this year, and their second payment one year after.

Buccigross said some of the local share could be used to recall laid-off workers. Prior to COVID-related cuts, the city had 182 full-time employees, and that number is now 167.

Mayor Ted Yates said areas where some workers could be recalled include engineering, service, building, parks/recreation and the fitness center. “We are fully staffed in police and fire,” he said.

Buccigross said some funds also can be used to provide assistance to homeowners and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The premium pay use applies to lower paid essential workers in areas such as safety, service, health and transportation, plus custodians. It permits a community to pay a worker up to $13 per hour or $25,000 per year.

SAFETY LEVY FUND

Prior to Council establishing a police and fire levy fund at its regular meeting, Buccigross outlined to finance panelists how that fund will operate. Revenue from the 2.4-mill Issue 2 levy passed by voters in early May will be placed there.

The city expects the levy to generate about $1.7 million annually. Buccigross said annual revenue for police and fire capital improvements – comprising 1 mill – will be about $708,000, while the remainder – 0.7-mill each – will be dedicated to police and fire pensions.

Yates said police and fire officials have agreed that placing the 1-mill portion into one line item will allow for greater flexibility when spending the money.

Buccigross said in the first year of the tax collection, the police/fire capital funds could go toward paying off the leases of a pumper fire truck, police cruisers and LifePak monitor units to the tune of slightly more than $300,000.

“We would not necessarily have to budget the total amount of revenue each year; we’d want to allow a portion of the funds to build up over time,” she said.

“Ultimately, the idea is to purchase large-ticket items with cash so we can save on financing charges. Lease/purchase financing is fine now because of low interest rates, but we never know how that will work out in the future.”

Buccigross said some other immediate needs for which the money can be used are a carport to shelter police cruisers, a police department parking lot upgrade and improvements to the fire station and its parking lot.

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