WEST ALEXANDRIA — Village Council held a special meeting to discuss possible uses for CARES Act funding on Wednesday, Sept. 9.
The village must earmark approximately $74,000 in funds by Dec. 31 or risk having to return those funds to the county.
West Alex and other area villages voted to apply for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds during a series of public meetings in August.
Gratis Village Council approved a resolution to apply for the funds during its Thursday, Aug. 13 meeting, and later passed a measure authorizing the village to spend those dollars and establishing a special Relief Fund for them. Verona council took similar action during its Tuesday, Aug. 11 meeting.
The Village of West Manchester, meanwhile, discussed possible uses for CARES Act funds during its Monday, Aug. 17 meeting, and Camden Village Council approved a resolution to apply for the funds on Thursday, Aug. 20.
Council president Ashley Myers discussed giving the money to village residents to help pay past-due utility bills incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown. This would require setting up an application and approval process, according to Myers, including creating a committee that would evaluate applications and disseminate funds.
The committee would pay utility service providers such as DP&L and Vectren directly, according to Myers, rather than releasing the funds to village residents, and would also be responsible for keeping strict tabs on what the funds are being used for.
Council member Holly Robbins, meanwhile, pointed out that the funds cannot be used to pay water or sewer service bills, as these are administered locally and would constitute the village paying those funds to itself.
$3,500 of the funds have already been allocated to pay for utility payment software updates, while an additional $787 was given to the village EMS department to pay for COVID-19-related expenses.
Robbins suggested using a portion of the funds to pay for touchless soap dispensers, towel dispensers, and toilets at village facilities including the town hall, fire and EMS departments, and the village sewer plant. This would limit contact with high-touch surfaces that can help spread the virus.
Council member Shannon Smith ultimately moved to create a Utility and Rent Assistance Fund and move $35,000 of CARES money into that fund. The measure was approved by unanimous vote.
Councilman Dan Utsinger then moved to place the remaining $39,183.34 in a COVID-19 Relief Fund to allow the village to purchase masks, hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless systems and other equipment. This measure was also approved by unanimous vote.
West Alexandria Village Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will take place Monday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at the village EMS office located at 8 Marty Lane.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook or Instagram @mproperenglish