CARES funding creates logjam

County looking for ways to use monies

The Osceola County Board of Commissioners approved submission of the application for the CARES Community Development Block Grant following a public hearing at its meeting on Sept. 15. The grant could bring additional funding to the county in the amount of $212,000. (Herald Review file photo)

The Osceola County Board of Commissioners approved submission of the application for the CARES Community Development Block Grant following a public hearing at its meeting on Sept. 15. The grant could bring additional funding to the county in the amount of $212,000. (Herald Review file photo)

REED CITY — The Osceola County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing regarding a resolution to approve the CARES Funding Community Development Block Grant application during its meeting on Sept. 15.

“This grant is for $212,000 from the state to cover any unfunded COIVD-19 expenses the county runs into,” Osceola County community development director Dan Massy said. “Because it is a community development block grant, there are certain items that need to go into the resolution. A public hearing is part of the requirement for receiving the grant.”

Massy said the grant will cover expenditures from January through December 2020, and the county can pass on what they don’t use to other governmental entities in the townships, villages or cities within the county, but it is not clear yet what expenses will be covered by the funds.

“I have had discussions with the community development specialists at the state and about 75 percent of the counties are taking advantage of this,” Massy said. “I have asked them if they could put out a list of all the expenses that would be eligible for this to be used.”

Osceola County treasurer Lori Leudeman said they have also received a grant for $215,000 from the state for coronavirus relief that is separate from the CDBG.

“We also have to come up with expenses to keep those funds,” Leudeman said.

Osceola County emergency management director Mark Watkins said that is the problem they are running into regarding all the COVID-19 relief grant funds – the same qualifications are being provided for every grant.

“We have a logjam of money we are trying to figure out how to use,” Watkins said. “There are only so many times you can pay for PPE and limited expenses. I am trying to work with some of the senators to realize this, but as of right now we are limited to the types of expenses we can claim.

“When the legislators passed all of this funding to communities, they all set the same standards and eligibilities, so we have a logjam of funding all covering the same expenses and not hitting the gaps,” he said. “That is my priority this week – trying to bring awareness to this throughout the state by reaching out to different organizations. At some point the higher ups are going to have to realize that they are sending money for the same repeated categories.”

During the meeting, the BOC also approved acceptance of the CARES Coronavirus Relief Government Grants Program (CRLGG) in the amount of $215,000.

In addition, the BOC previously approved submission of an application for the Public Health and Public Service Payroll Reimbursement CARES grant, in the amount of around $632,000.

Under this program, the entire payroll cost of an employee whose time is substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency is eligible.

Security service upgraded

During the meeting, the BOC approved a two-year agreement with I.T. Right to provide technology support and an anti-virus/anti-ransomeware program for the county for $49,776 per year.

The program updates include an additional 66 units covered, plus upgrades to the anti-virus software, technology coordinator Jon-Thomas Burgess said.

“In 2016, we started with 66 units and were paying $29, 500 per year for those 66 units,” Burgess said. “We have almost doubled in size since then, which has brought us to 122 units, which brings us to the $49,776.

“In addition, the anti-virus and ant-ransomeware have been substantially upgraded,” he said. “With the emails that are constantly trying to infect municipalities, we need to be protected and that comes with costs.”

The service will include protection against data breeches and protection for remote devices.

“This is a very strict and secure tool, and because of all the devices that have been added and people working remotely, I put it all on so that everyone would be protected,” Burgess said. “I fell that they have done very well for us, and recommend the board accept the contract at that price.”

COIVD-19 policy change

County coordinator Susan Vander Pol presented a proposal to the BOC for a change in the COIVD-19 policy dealing with travel.

“The CDC has changed how they look at travel,” Vander Pol said. “Right now, an employee can go out of state and be less exposed to COVID-19 than in some of the other hot spots around the state.”

Vander Pol said that rather than having everyone that leaves the state quarantine for 14 days, the recommendation is that employees who travel should work remotely if possible, and if not, wear a mask at all times while at work, for 10 days.

The BOC voted to approve changing the requirement from 5 days to 10 days for employees who travel, whether in state or out of state, to wear a mask at work or work remotely.

In other business

During the meeting the BOC approved the following motions:

• a motion to accept the Emergency Management Performance Grant agreement for FY2020, which provides up to 35 percent of the emergency manager salary for maintaining the state and local emergency preparedness measures.

• a motion to submit a notice of intent to the Michigan State Police to use FEMA disaster funds to update the Hazard Mitigation Program plan. The plans are required by FEMA to be updated every five years and require authorization from the BOC to use the disaster funds to hire outside personnel to update the plans.

• a motion to approve the County Veteran Services Fund FY21 grant application.

• a motion to accept the USDA Ambulance Remount grant and set the public hearing date for 9:30 a.m., Oct. 6.

• a motion to approve the Area on Aging of West Michigan Older Americans Act FY21 contract amendment

• a motion to approve the microfilming of old tax rolls by Graphic Sciences, Inc.

• a motion to approve four Farmland Agreement applications in Rose Lake Township