INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the monetary standing of communities all through the state of Ohio, and Independence is not any exception.
Metropolis Finance Director Vern Blaze and Councilman Kenn Synek, who’s a member of the Finance Committee, each said that the town was in a powerful monetary place earlier than the coronavirus affected Ohio. Regardless of that wholesome base, Blaze outlined some areas that will probably be negatively affected because of the dip within the U.S. inventory market and momentary enterprise closures.
Blaze mentioned metropolis income sources that may take successful because of the coronavirus are Municipal Earnings Tax Income (MITR), resort and motel lodging taxes, recreation and group service charges, Mayor’s Court docket fines and curiosity on investments.
In response to a report from Blaze, the U.S. Division of Housing and City Improvement has awarded simply over $137 million to the State of Ohio and native governments as part of the coronavirus stimulus invoice. Six cities in Cuyahoga County obtained a portion of those funds, together with Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Lakewood and Parma.
Blaze mentioned he doesn’t anticipate that any of this cash will probably be awarded to Independence, as it’s getting used for Neighborhood Improvement Block Grants, emergency shelter grants and housing help for individuals with AIDS.
His report did proceed with optimistic information that the town’s funding funds have been doing nicely on the finish of the primary quarter of 2020. Although a lot of that money should be used for commitments to the expenditure of funds at the moment on the town’s books, Blaze mentioned, “The town continues to be in a a lot stronger monetary place than most municipalities, and the subsequent few months will seemingly severely problem lots of these municipalities’ funds.”
Whereas Independence’s funding funds have held up, the dividend and curiosity revenue from the town’s portfolio have decreased because the starting of March, Blaze mentioned.
By way of MITR, the method begins with payroll paid and taxes withheld, then the taxes are forwarded to the Regional Earnings Tax Company (RITA) and are lastly forwarded to Independence. For instance, payroll and taxes withheld in January are forwarded to RITA in February, then given to Independence in March.
Primarily based on this timetable, Blaze mentioned Might and June’s MITR will probably be decrease, as COVID-19 restrictions have been put in place throughout March and April, together with “stay-at-home” orders.
“The town should take some mixture of cost-reduction and project-deferment actions to account for the forecasted drop in Municipal Earnings Tax Income,” Blaze mentioned.
MITR is used to pay metropolis worker wages, salaries and advantages; day-to-day working bills; capital purchases comparable to automobiles and tools; and infrastructure initiatives.
Synek expects that capital enchancment initiatives will probably be delayed on account of the discount in funds, however mentioned he believes the town will “climate the storm simply tremendous.”
Blaze echoed Synek’s assertion, saying that he recommends that the town delay and defer infrastructure initiatives that haven’t but began.
Full-time workers who qualify for one of many six causes for depart that relate to COVID-19 might use as much as two weeks of paid sick depart between April 1 and Dec. 31, in keeping with Blaze. He mentioned that just a few households have utilized this time underneath the Households First Coronavirus Response Act.
The six qualifying causes to obtain this cost embody being topic to a federal, state or native quarantine order; being suggested by a healthcare supplier to self-quarantine; exhibiting signs of COVID-19 and searching for a analysis; caring for a person who should be quarantined; caring for a kid whose college has been closed because of the virus; or experiencing the same situation specified by the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies.
On the Metropolis Council assembly earlier this month, Mayor Greg Kurtz mentioned that as of April 14, $22,000 had been awarded to workers who have been unable to work because of the coronavirus. Blaze mentioned this cash got here from already budgeted wages within the respective departments.
“These wages will probably be famous in case any COVID-19 reimbursement mechanisms materialize sooner or later,” he mentioned.
On the April council assembly, the town handed laws that enables the town to make use of $100,000 of its current funds for emergencies or catastrophic occasions. Blaze defined that the ordinance gives the mayor with extra spending flexibility than underneath common situations. Nonetheless, the expenditures made will nonetheless need to be reported.
Whereas nothing particular was outlined within the laws, an ordinance that approved the continuity of compensation of standard wages to metropolis workers as a result of circumstances involving COVID-19 was faraway from the April council assembly agenda.
In the course of the council caucus, Kurtz mentioned that the eliminated ordinance fell underneath the laws that enables use of current funds for emergencies or catastrophic occasions.
That laws handed, although Synek and Councilman Dale Veverka voted towards it.
“The ordinance is a tacit approach to authorize the mayor to pay workers who couldn’t work because of the virus,” Synek mentioned.
Whereas he mentioned it was unlucky that they have been unable to work, he believed it was not a clever use of the general public’s funds.
Transferring ahead, Blaze mentioned: “If each greenback in diminished income is matched with the same greenback of price discount and/or expenditure delay, then that will probably be a great begin in direction of the preservation of money. However a misplaced greenback of income is a misplaced greenback that will by no means be made up, and the town’s money place will seemingly decline a minimum of considerably due to what’s coming.”
He continued, “… having sturdy, stable funds and sufficient money reserves is the prudent plan of action, permitting for the upcoming ‘storm’ to be weathered as finest as doable.”
Synek mentioned: “Independence was blessed with plentiful assets when (the pandemic) occurred. Nobody goes to lose their job, and packages won’t be minimize.”
Learn extra from the Parma Sun Post.