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Canfield trustees to allocate relief funds

Schools and fire ask for money

CANFIELD — Canfield Township trustees will make a decision next week on how to allocate Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.

David Wilkeson, president of the Canfield Local Schools board, and Don Hutchison, Cardinal Joint Fire District chief, each asked trustees during a budget meeting Wednesday for funding to cover COVID-19-related spending.

Both requested that excess funds be disbursed in the form of a sub-grant from the CARES Act money.

Trustee chairman Brian Governor said his first responsibility is to make sure Canfield Township has been reimbursed before allocating any possible relief to other entities.

“I have no problem discussing sub-granting dollars to the fire district, to the school district, or even local businesses, but not until the township has been reimbursed all of the legal dollars it is entitled to based upon the guidance we have today,” Governor said.

The township’s fiscal officer, Denise Joseph, also supports the reimbursement as the township is currently operating in decifit spending.

There is $354,155 of CARES Act money that the township has received. The township would first be reimbursed $250,000 for its contract with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s office, contracted as the township’s law enforcement.

The reimbursement from the CARES Act funds would cover the payments by the township to MCSO from March through December.

MAKING THEIR CASE

In the spring, the school district was “abruptly” cut $683,278.32 from last school year’s budget from the state, Wilkeson said.

That left the district $500,000 in the red. Since the school year was two-thirds complete, Wilkeson said there wasn’t an opportunity to amend spending.

Ultimately the amounts each district could be cut was capped at 6 percent, leaving the school district with a cut of $236,131, Wilkeson said.

While the district is anticipating $360,000 this year in decreased funding, officials also are uncertain about property tax revenue.

So far, the school district has replaced personal protection equipment, purchased cleaning supplies, plastic desk dividers, temperature monitors for each doorway, spent $500 per teacher for PPE and hired additional cleaning staff, among other things to ensure the safety of students and personnel, Wilkeson said.

“We have spent at least $600,000 that we would normally not have spent and we are far from done spending,” Wilkeson told trustees.

Hutchison told trustees that extra funds for the fire district would go toward another ambulance, bringing the total to five.

The ambulance, which would be designated for COVID-19 calls, would have virus-resistant surfaces as well as UV light technology to sanitize after every outing.

The district’s EMTs are transporting six COVID-19 patients a week, up from just one, Hutchison said.

Hutchison has collected estimates on a new ambulance, which he told trustees range from $172,000 to $230,000.

“I don’t think we need the biggest Cadillac out there. I just need something that will do the job,” he said.

The district had to purchase scrubs for EMTs to change into after each call while at hospitals, and an ambulance was rented during the peak of COVID-19 earlier this year, Hutchison said.

Currently, the district has an ambulance with one UV light, but after each call it is decontaminated and out of use, which isn’t long, he said.

The additional ambulance would be designated for the virus calls for the next two years, and also serve as a replacement if necessary.

A Medicare reimbursement for COVID-19 has helped to offset some purchasing costs, Hutchison said, and a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant next year would go toward supplies, but not a vehicle.

Trustees are anticipating making a decision on the funds during the next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

afox@tribtoday.com

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