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Panel allocates COVID funds

The Warren County Commissioners allocated $435,000 in state COVID-19 hospitality funds during Wednesday’s meeting.

The funds come from CHIRP — the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program. Applications were handled by the Northwest Commission with the commissioner’s action on Wednesday needed to formally award the funds.

The funding was available in $5,000 increments up to $50,000.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said the funds were able to cover eligible losses up to 100 percent for some entities but 50-60 percent for most.

A total of 17 awards were approved ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. Eligible entities receiving funds included hotels – the Days Inn and Quality inn – with the remainder of the funds to restaurant and catering entities.

SPECIAL COUNSEL RETAINED

The commissioners also signed off on an agreement with outside legal counsel to represent the county in a potential class action lawsuit focused on each county’s prothonotary.

Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt explained that a case was filed at the state Commonwealth Court earlier this year. He explained that the allegations center on provisions in the judicial code which provides for how filing fees are charged. He said part of the statute limits the filing fee for governmental entities to $10 and the case is “looking to recover any excess fees paid on behalf of any governmental entity.”

The last six years are covered in the litigation.

Outside counsel in a joint defense with county counsel is the most efficient approach to defending this action,” Schmidt said, telling the commissioners that over 40 of the state’s prothonotaries are using the same firm. “The fees of this firm will be jointly shared amongst all the prothonotary’s they represent,” he added.

Schmidt said it’s the county’s hope that the case “may get dismissed on some procedural grounds.”

He said he reviewed the suit with Warren County Prothonotary Jennifer Phillips.

“We think the prothonotary’s office exposure is low because certainly (there are) not many municipalities making filings with our prothonotary on a regular basis.”

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