Council OKs $2.75M in new spending to address COVID-19, prepare for primary election

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The City-County Council met by video conferencing Monday night and approved $2.75 million in new spending to address health department needs and prepare for the upcoming primary election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of $2 million was approved for the Marion County Elections Board “to provide for mailing of absentee ballot applications and the equipment needed to manage an election season unlikely to look like anything Hoosiers have seen before,” said a news release from the city.

Tweets during the council meeting said the spending would include the rental of ExpressVote machines. They use touch-screen technology that produces a paper record for tabulation, according to the manufacturer.

The state has moved its primary from May 5 to June 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the council agreed to provide the Marion County Office of Public Health and Safety with $750,000 “for medical supplies such as personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, to allow for more frequent and thorough cleaning of public spaces, and to address capacity issues at the Marion County morgue,” the release said.

Dr. Virginia Caine of county’s Department of Public Health said before the votes on the new spending that she anticipates Marion County would see its COVID-19 peak sometime in the last week of April or the first two weeks of May.

New spending of $3.6 million was also approved for capital equipment for the Department of Public Works’ operations division and to fund the lease of new capital equipment for the solid waste division, a tweet said.

Before the meeting began, the City-County Council had a moment of silence to honor IMPD Officer Breann Leath, who was killed in the line of duty Thursday while responding to a call for help with a domestic incident.

The meeting involved councilors remotely online instead of the usual gathering in the City-County Building. The virtual conference was broadcast on the local government channel, and the public could participate online as well.