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State alters CARES Act rules in 2021

By BRET BEVENS
Southern Ohio Today

JACKSON – Ohio’s Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee has made changes to how CARES Act money can be spent next year

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Jackson County Senior Planner Whitaker Wright explained that the new rules require that expenditures follow the Community Development Block Grant regulations.

            “The key in talking with state, and they were very direct on this, the project has to be directly tied to the COVID pandemic,” Wright said. “More pertinent to the county is the state’s CDBG Advisory Committee met Thursday and made fundamental changes.”

            Wright explained that starting in 2021 the allocation program will be eliminated.

            “They are going to take the money and they are going to divide it,” Wright said. “Half of it will go to fund more competitive grants and the other half will go into a discretionary pot, that’s seven and a half million dollars.”

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            Among other new rules is they will no longer fund small paving or sidewalk repair projects. The state wants to see more substantial projects, according to Wright. The other new rule, which Wright thinks benefits Jackson County, is that the discretionary part of the money can be bid on continuously and counties do not have to wait every other year.

            Wright said he still has a lot of the questions for the state concerning qualifying projects, documentation needed and other questions. He said once those clarifications are understood he can reveal more information about other county projects.

In other news, the Neighborhood Revitalization Program projects for Coalton that were open for bid were water meters and software, Americans with Disabilities compliant ramps, a basketball court, storm drains and a tornado siren.

            Wright said potential bidders were invited to bid on one or more of the projects included in the bid packet.

            Jackson Bros. Construction, of Wellston, offered bids on the ADA ramp project, the basketball court and the storm drains. They did not offer a bid on the water meter project or the tornado siren.

            Stockmeister Enterprises, of Jackson, offered bids on all five projects.

            Neptune Equipment Company, of Cincinnati, bid on the water meter project only.

            Wilson Excavation of Jackson County, in Wellston, bid on the water meter project, the storm drains projects and the basketball court.

            “We will not award (a bid) today,” Wright said. “We will send these to the engineer to evaluate the bids. The engineer and the Village of Coalton will make a recommendation to the commissioners.”

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