LOGAN — The Hocking County Commissioners agreed Thursday during their regularly scheduled meeting to hold off on cutting the county budget.

Originally, the commissioners were going to cut the county general fund budget by 10 percent. Now, they will determine how much the budget may need to be cut, if at all, after the CARES Act money goes in the general fund.

A 10 percent cut to the county’s budget would be a $770,443 reduction. Hocking County Auditor Ken Wilson said he has also pitched a five percent reduction to the budget if revenue increases, which would be approximately a $381,000 reduction.

In a previous meeting, Wilson said the county is spending about $850,000 a month and the income is about $800,000 a month. If the expenses continue at the same level with no reduction in spending and revenue keeps going downward, then there would be a shortfall at the end of the year.

Wilson was expected at Thursday’s meeting to discuss what he had learned during a webinar with the Ohio Office of Budget and Management regarding CARES Act funds, but he did not attend.

Hocking County received $452,503 from this act and it was originally believed that the funds could be used to make up money lost from purchasing personal protective equipment.

Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses believes the money should not be held onto until the end of the year to help the general fund and that it should be used now to maintain the general fund.

Hocking County Grant Coordinator Gretchen Gregory said the Office of Budget and Management is now advising that all local governments in Ohio can use CARES Act funds for administrative leave costs, but it must be recorded in a detailed and specific manner.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the CARES Act requires that the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19); were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on Dec. 30, 2020.

Employees whose time has substantially been dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency may also get their entire payroll costs covered.

After realizing the funding could be used for just more than PPE, the commissioners decided to hold off on the 10 percent budget cut.

The commissioners set the deadline of July 30 for county offices to submit how much they have spent on administrative leave and fringes. Then after the auditor’s office calculates the expenses, the commissioners can then put their CARES Act funds directly into the general fund to make up for some of the money lost and help offices cover their COVID-19 related costs.

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