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Panel begins spending CARES Act federal aid

Warren County received over $3.5 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus CARES Act funding.

This week, they started spending it.

A total of $98,846 in technology purchases were approved by the commissioners.

That includes new laptops and Surface Pros for several county departments as well as some video equipment and an ID printer. A phone position for the 911 Center was also included for allow for more social distancing there.

“In the event of another shutdown,” Commissioners Tricia Durbin said, “(we) definitely should take action on those laptops.”

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said the expenses are “all reasonable and necessary” and said this is the “triage” of the most important technological needs.

“All the laptops listed here are computers that should be at the end of life,” he said.

The county had originally planned to allocate $2 million to business and non-profits, $1 million for government, fire and EMS needs, $70,000 for administration and $500,000 for broadband efforts.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said that “based on need in the community” he is recommending the non-profit/business line be increased to $2.2 million with the funds coming from the government and broadband pots.

He also outlined several requests that would be forthcoming but didn’t require action on Wednesday.

“After talking with Department of Public Safety staff, my recommendation is to ask fire departments to look at their books (and see) what kind of loss they have,” Kafferlin said, then offer up to $5,000 in CARES Act funding for that loss. “There is no other way for them to get the revenue loss,’ he said. “If there is any organization probably affected by the COVID the most,” he said, it’s responders as they are the “boots on the ground responding to calls and using the PPE.”

He also pitched funding a COG fire services EMS recruitment campaign, training, UV disinfecting wands and $40,000 worth of PPE purchased. He also said the City of Warren has requested $10,000 for eligible expenses with another $10,000 to come in the coming months.

Additionally, he recommended updating the county’s continuity of government operations plan.

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