Marietta City Council discusses CARES funds and homelessness issue | News, Sports, Jobs

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The Marietta city council will not have completed the allowances for emergency homelessness by the end of the year.

Lawmakers and other city administrators are looking for other avenues to raise public funds to support a warming center at a local church through the County Homelessness Project, local food banks, and vouchers for them. stays in motels to be transported by law enforcement for immediate distribution on cold nights.

In January of this year, a law enforcement officer from Marietta was called to one of the homeless camps for a welfare check. wanting to find a frozen body but also having nowhere to offer to those who do not have a home.

The officer requested to remain anonymous at this time and that request continues to be honored by The Times.

“What am I supposed to do?” they asked the city councilor. “They’re not breaking any laws, they’re not on private property. And I have nowhere to take them.

Eleven months later, the hope is to provide a warm place for the earth, with access to behavioral health and food resources while being protected from the cold.

The hiccups experienced this month? How to legally pay for aid.

“If you are worried that the Attorney General will give you a slap on the wrist, find out ahead of time, whether it happens or not” argued Schenkel, council representative for the fourth quarter, at the last finance committee meeting on Monday over the source funds confusion.

Schenkel reiterated both at the town hall meeting and after consulting with the city’s chief legal officer, Paul Bertram and the Times, that swift action is no longer just an act of charity, but a preventive measure. crime.

context

At the last regular business meeting before council on December 17, the city general counsel offered lawmakers an alternative to the original plan that week to allocate a total of $ 75,000 in general funds in varying amounts. at the Washington County Homeless Project, Salvation. Army, Gospel Mission Food Pantry, Washington-Morgan Community Action, and Harvest of Hope.

Bertram called on lawmakers on December 17 not to suspend readings and call for a vote on the result “preliminary” resolutions until this week’s special business meeting, to allow for further clarification on the parameters and use of coronavirus-specific community development grant dollars in lieu of funds from the city’s general fund.

On Monday, the finance committee met again following the change in resolutions for an explanation from the legal director and city auditor, and to question the available uses and limits of federal block grant funding. for community development, versus direct funding from the CARES Act and potential partnership with the Marietta Community Foundation.

Find the right pot of money

What is changing is what pot of money the funds can come from, when the state auditor told city officials the city couldn’t use $ 75,000 of funds. general to provide relief.

On Monday, at the last finance committee meeting of the year, City Councilor Susan Boyer argued that a revised Ohio code statute that was passed in October 1953 she interpreted to mean that the city ​​can use general funds.

However, Bertram explained, this law (ORC 751.10) can be misapplied, although it sets a vague precedent for leading crisis adaptation.

After the council’s public discussion, Bertram told The Times that Chapter 751 is “aged” reminiscent of the days when cities also had “Emergency rollers” and used portions of property taxes for monthly housing certificates for the destitute and orphans. These relief roles and the portions assigned to individuals were administered by a city’s director of public security as a “An overseer of the poor”.

“It does not exist anymore” Bertram explained.

But the framework for coping with a current crisis can be used, Schenkel advised.

Options

1. The city provides $ 75,000 in requested aid to the five organizations through the remaining CARES Round 1 dollars it received from the state (approximately $ 110,000 remaining in city coffers). now that the spending deadline has been extended past December 30.)

2. The city allocates the next coronavirus community development grant funds (separate from the annual allocation) to the same nonprofit organizations, for disbursement in the form of reimbursement after expenditure.

3. The city disburses the General Fund dollars to the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus fund line, which will then be paid as a cash advance to nonprofit organizations, with a written contract for repayment to the general fund when the CDBG funds will arrive.

4. With potential cooperation with the Marietta Community Foundation, as indicated by Schenkel and the emails provided to The Times between the Homeless Coalition and the Foundation, the city may also consider two sub-options:

4a. If the Marietta Community Foundation agreed in writing to donate the necessary dollars to the five entities, city lawmakers could also agree to reimburse the foundation from CARES Act dollars or CDBG dollars (if the leadership of Anthony Forte, a program director of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development located in the Columbus office who told council on Dec. 9 that he is the state’s expert on funding the fight against homelessness, would give the green light to expenses requested as eligible for HUD funding.)

4b. Bertram also theorized a second option on Monday, considering asking the foundation to serve as both the disbursor and monitor of the CARES Act dollars.

Each of the options is being considered by the General Counsel and Council, with Bertram pledging to further pursue the viability of each to minimize post-pandemic legal risks for the city.

And after

Bertram has pledged to speak today with the Executive Director of the Marietta Community Foundation and City Auditor Sherri Hess to begin defining the remaining needs of nonprofits to secure agreements for disbursements of funds.

With this advice and contact with representatives of the Homeless Coalition (Steve and Teresa Porter and their legal adviser Robin Bozian), the hope is to form final options for the council to discuss details determined on January 4 at the finance committee.

Other business

The Board also met primarily in executive session for the Employee Relations Committee on Monday afternoon to accept the next three-year contract, retroactive to November 1, for the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The contract has been under negotiation with the union for most of 2020 as a standard rotating discussion on pay and benefits. This new contract expires on October 31, 2023, if adopted on Wednesday by council vote, and would come into force on January 1, 2021.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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