Finance panel weighs uses for ARPA funding

EAST LIVERPOOL — By spring 2023, city firefighters hope to have a brand spanking new ambulance.

During Tuesday’s finance committee, Fire Chief Bill Jones asked the committee, consisting of Fred Rayl, Jeff Kreefer and Ray Perorazio, to draft legislation that would allow the fire department to order one. Earlier this month, Jones’ grant writing skills brought in $200,000 in federal funds toward the purchase of an ambulance to replace their 2001 Ford model purchased when they initiated the co-op effort. However, initially they thought they only had to come up with around $5,000.

Jones tell members that now the price is higher due to a recently passed mandate requiring a power cot, which normally costs $24,000, on board.

He did manage to find a refurbished power cot for around $9,500.

Chief Jones inquired about using C.A.R.E.S. Act or American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to pay for the city’s share of the ambulance and the new cot. He points to the city of Steubenville, who used some of their C.A.R.E.S. Act money to buy and equip three ambulances.

“We don’t have to have any money upfront all due before pickup,” he said of the new diesel unit.

City Auditor Marilyn Bosco said there are different requirements for use of the C.A.R.E.S. Act money than the ARPA money, but she will check into it as well as the possible use of capital improvements’ money as suggested by Perorazio.

Mayor Greg Bricker also inquired about using ARPA money towards the city’s match for demolition of blighted properties. He updated the committee that city officials already have given the Columbiana County Land Bank a list of 200 properties needing torn down within city limits. He hopes that their match will give the city more than $3 million to pursue at the state level.

Attorney Jantzen D. Mace wrote Bricker in an Oct. 6 email: “The interim final rule already funds to be allocated toward services that address the “social determinants of health,” and Mace believes that this alone “allows the city to allocate funds to address abandoned properties (which impact the health and safety of a neighborhood.” He also pointed out in his email that most of East Liverpool falls into a “Qualified Census Tract, which entitles it to additional eligible uses for its ARPA funds, including “housing services to support healthy living environments and neighborhoods conducive to mental and physical wellness… (Thus) I am of the opinion that demolition of abandoned properties could fall under anyone of these eligible uses,” a legal opinion shared by Law Director Charles Payne.

Council member John Mercer did verify that his Licensing and Economic Development committee agreed to forward Bricker’s request to council.

Bosco said that she doesn’t have a firm handle on the available ARPA money right now, but she should know better a month from now. “We have five more pays and two more pensions (in 2021) to see where we will end up,” she added.

Rayl said that he will look at drafting legislation for the next finance meeting, which will be held at 3 p.m. Nov. 9.


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