County considers how to spend $16.25 million in federal COVID relief funding

A store front, The Commons and the Bartholomew County Courthouse are reflected on the windows of Gramz Bakery and Cafe on Washington Street in downtown Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Mike Wolanin | The Republic Mike Wolanin | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Recommendations were revealed Monday for the $16.25 million earmarked for Bartholomew County government through the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

The county has recently received about $8 million of federal funds earmarked for stimulus and COVID-19 related losses, while the remaining $8.2 million will be received before May of next year, county auditor Pia O’Connor said.

A committee consisting of O’Connor, county commissioner’s Chairman Larry Kleinhenz and county council members Scott Bonnell and Jorge Morales was formed to make the recommendations that came before the commissioners Monday.

While the recommendations were unanimously approved, the county council also has to give its approval. The proposal will be brought up during Tuesday’s 6 p.m. council meeting at the Bartholomew County Governmental Office Building at the corner of Third and Franklin streets.

The tentative spending plan provides efforts to create countywide broadband with the largest allocation of $4 million – almost 25% of the entire allocation, commissioner Tony London said.

Under the heading “county government revenue losses,” the committee tried to address revenue drops for the county highway and community corrections departments, the auditor said.

The $1.2 million allocated for township assistance reflects an anticipated increasing need for poor relief to individuals and families, O’Connor and Kleinhenz said.

For the complete story, see Tuesday’s Republic.