Ferry receives $218K in COVID relief money

MARTINS FERRY — The city of Martins Ferry has received more than $200,000 in federal COVID-19 relief money meant to help the municipality deal with coronavirus-related expenditures.

During this week’s City Council meeting, Auditor Rita Randall announced the city had received $218,552 in COVID relief money.

She said on Thursday that it was passed down from the state to the city via the Belmont County Commission.

Randall noted the city was not required to apply for the money, but that the county had its own formula to determine how much municipalities and townships would receive.

“I think it will be very helpful. We’ve spent a ton of money on sanitizer and sterilizing different buildings, setting up different offices and for people to work from home,” she said.

To date, she estimated the city has spent about $11,000 on sanitizer, fogger-type machines that sanitize air in rooms, buildings and vehicles such as ambulances, along with masks and gloves.

She estimated the city has spent another $6,000 to $7,000 on computers, though the final bills have not yet come in. The city also is looking into ways to hold meetings online or via teleconferences.

If done online, the city may purchase iPads for council members to use from home.

“We will be reimbursing several funds for money we’ve spent. …

“We had to set up a separate fund because it’s considered a grant; the money has to have its own fund,” Randall said of the relief money.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, it was determined that council would be kept informed of the COVID-related purchases being made.

She said the money can also be used to cover payroll expenses and sick days for employees who get the virus or have to be quarantined for coming into contact with a COVID-positive person.

The city recently had one employee who tested positive for the virus following a beach vacation.

Because of this, 17 other workers had to be quarantined for 14 days before coming back to work. She said the cost to the city that was related to that large number of employee absences still is being tallied.

“There are so many restrictions on this money, that’s all I’ve been doing is reading how it can be used. … It’s really been a trying time.

I’ve been on more phone calls with the state just trying to stay on top of things. It’s just tough,” she said.

Randall said the city wants to stay prepared for the future, which is why it is looking into teleconferencing and online avenues of having meetings.

“We don’t know where this virus will lead us,” she said.


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