WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Local governments are feeling the pinch because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ohio Senate Finance Committee is looking to help local governments financially impacted by the coronavirus with federal dollars earmarked just for that reason.
“So the state got about $4.5 billion from the federal CARES Act. Of the $4.5 billion, $2 billion was set aside for local government funding. However, the federal government put a lot of stringent safeguards on that,” said Senator Sean O’Brien.
Under guidelines set by the U.S. Treasury, those dollars are specifically to help local governments with expenses related to the pandemic.
“[There are some] gray areas and that’s why we’re concerned that if we spend the money and the feds make us pay it back, it could really hurt the state down the road,” O’Brien said.
Of the $2 billion, $800 million is going directly to six jurisdictions with populations surpassing 500,000 people.
The remaining $1.2 billion will be distributed by the state to less populated areas.
“Each county’s going to get money and it’s based on 2019 local government funds that they had received before, so the money will go to the county and be distributed to the local governments from there,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien cosponsored Senate Bill 310, which passed Wednesday. It pays out the first $350 million of the $1.2 billion.
“With the remaining amount, we’re putting it on a hold at this time and we’re working with our federal delegation, trying to get the federal government to reduce or take off those restrictions so we can use the money for less gray area of dealing with the coronavirus,” O’Brien said.