Coronavirus relief fund could provide help to local governments


HANCOCK COUNTY — Though COVID-19 has put a financial strain on many local governments, they are also set to receive some help paying back costs associated with the pandemic.

The county government, as well as the municipal governments of Greenfield and seven towns in the county, were allocated funds awarded by the federal CARES Act. The state of Indiana set aside approximately $300 million of its $2.4 billion share of the funds.

However, governments do not automatically receive any of the allocation. Instead, governments must apply to receive the funding, which is managed through the Indiana Finance Authority. It can be applied toward a variety of costs incurred due to COVID-19 that the entity would not have otherwise spent money on, including some employee overtime. Library costs can also be included.

Maximum amounts are set for each entity. Greenfield, for example, could receive a maximum of $732,061. Hancock County could seek reimbursement for up to nearly $2.5 million in expenses.

“That doesn’t mean you get a check for that amount,” Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell said.

The funding cannot be used for public schools, which have other sources of financial help under the CARES Act.

Mitch Ripley, human resources director for the city of Greenfield, is in charge of handling the funds for the city. So far, he has requested and received $18,000 of funding. Each request takes about three weeks to process, he said.

Greenfield’s requests have included reimbursement for masks, hand sanitizer, hand-washing stations, and door locks used to buzz people into city hall and limit the number of people in the building, as well as other personal protective equipment. Ripley is also hoping to claim some employee overtime costs that were related to the pandemic.

“My next bill that I’m turning in is almost $5,000, so it’ll probably be $1,000 to $2,000 from here on out,” Ripley said.

County Auditor Debra Carnes said she is working with the Indiana Finance Authority to determine precisely what county expenses qualify, but she expects to submit claims totaling at least $80,000.

That would go to pay for expenses like upgrading the commissioners’ court so meetings can be conducted remotely, as well as personal protective equipment and a number of laptops for employees who worked from home, Carnes said.

One expense would more than double the amount the county would be reimbursed, if approved. That would be the cost of renovating the Hancock County Community Corrections building as temporary additional jail space to allow for social distancing and quarantining of inmates. The project is expected to cost just under $150,000.

Carnes said she plans to submit that cost to the state for approval.

“We’re hopeful on that as well,” she said.

Erica Salmon, clerk-treasurer of Cumberland, said her office has not yet submitted any requests for reimbursements but is tallying up the costs for which they can seek reimbursement. Cumberland was allocated $100,089.

“We’re hoping to be able to use as much of that allocation as we can,” Salmon said.

Melissa Glazier, clerk-treasurer for Fortville, also said her town was planning to take advantage of the program. Fortville’s allocation is $132,273.

Both Salmon and Glazier said they anticipated requesting repayment mostly for the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment for use by town employees and at public buildings.

McCordsville Clerk-Treasurer Staci Starcher said her office will also be requesting payment for the cost of PPE. In addition, McCordsville officials are hoping the program will reimburse the town for the cost of repairs to its wastewater treatment plant.

McCordsville was allocated $230,707.

New Palestine clerk treasurer Tonii Pyle said she plans to submit a request for reimbursement after receiving data from all of the town’s department heads on what they’ve spent. New Palestine was allocated $80,428.

The three smallest Hancock County communities allocated funds by the Indiana Finance Authority are Shirley, Wilkinson and Spring Lake. Officials from each of the three towns said they had not submitted requests for reimbursement through the program and had no plans to. Shirley was allocated $27,869, Wilkinson $14,664 and Spring Lake $7,299.