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Liberty to split bulk of CARES funds between police and fire

LIBERTY — Liberty trustees will spend the bulk of its $650,000 in CARES Act funds on payroll for the police and fire departments.

Township trustees voted Thursday to spend about $405,000, equally on payroll and benefits for police officers and firefighters incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.

Township attorney Cherry Poteet said she referenced updated federal U.S. Treasury guidance on how the CARES Act funds can be used, and it allows the funds to be used on payroll for public safety personnel.

“The new guidance expressly provides that CARES Act funds can be used to pay salary and benefits for all police, firefighters, and EMS workers incurred between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 30, 2020. Although money for salaries for these workers was included in the annual budget, the Treasury Department has determined that the impact of the coronavirus means that the work these employees were doing was substantially different than what was originally accounted for in the budget,” Poteet stated in an email.

Because COVID-19 has altered the work of public safety employees, it is a qualifying use, the guidance states.

The township also is spending $48,535 on a truck for the road department. The expense is allowed because “the township hired a fourth employee in the road department and did not have a truck for this employee,” Poteet stated. “Requiring road department employees to travel together in the small enclosed space of a truck to perform work puts the township employees at risk of spreading COVID-19 if one employee becomes sick but is pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic.”

The truck will allow for employees to properly distance, Poteet states.

“The township certainly wants to protect its employees to the extent reasonably possible from the risk of illness and even death from the coronavirus. In addition, if multiple road department employees become ill, it would be impossible for the township to provide road maintenance and snow plowing services to the township residents. The purchase of this truck was not previously budgeted for and was necessitated by the need to separate employees while carrying out their duties because of the coronavirus,” Poteet stated.

The township also is using $8,500 to repair the park deck so it can be used for meetings outside, $4,650 on the Logan Fire Station and $2,275 at the Belmont Fire Station to install touchless restroom fixtures.

Money also will be spent on:

• Touchless doors for restrooms through Trinity Door System, for $5,500;

• Hand sanitizer;

• Fire department costs;

• Zoom meetings;

• Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers through Rhiel Supply, for $2,220;

• Touchless bathroom fixtures for Center Park and Churchill Park through Adam and Eve, for $10,400;

• Touchless faucets for fire department bathrooms and kitchens, for $7,600;

• Bathroom ventilation systems through Air Force One, for $1,175;

• Donations of $1,000 each to Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest Food Bank, Salvation Army, Churchill United Methodist Church Community Food Bank and Liberty Local Schools;

• A donation to Veterans Outreach of $500;

• And firefighter overtime costs of $7,688.

The township also previously set aside $10,000 in funds for local small businesses that can apply for the funds.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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