INside Story

How Boone, Hamilton counties’ officials spent 2020 coronavirus relief money

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis city-county government received more than $200 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Officials say the city could not have made it through the COVID-19 pandemic without the money.

Indiana’s federal coronavirus relief was divided up amongst cities, towns and counties based upon population, and not every local government applied for the money. Those that did found a way spent it.

Boone County received just over $2 million in federal coronavirus relief, excluding nearly $900,000 for Zionsville, $522,000 for Lebanon, $277,000 for Whitestown, and $50,000 for Thorntown. Boone County Commissioner Tom Santelli, “We spent probably in the $1.1 (million) to $1.2 million range, and that has been meticulously detailed in terms of what we have done with that money and the applications that that has been applied, too.”

The county bought testing supplies, and built a temporary field hospital at the county fairgrounds in Lebanon. Some of the money was went to the county-owned hospital, which was overwhelmed as the virus moved through the state.

“When you have got more patients in the hospital than you can staff for and when you have got patients, COVID patients, that are in the ambulance bays to be able to serve them, we knew that we were going to have to very closely watch how those dollars were being spent because we wanted to make sure the constituents were getting the most value out of it,” the Republican county commissioner said. 

Next door in Hamilton County, government officials received $10 million, excluding $3 million for Carmel, $2 million for Noblesville, and $1.3 million for Westfield. The 2020 federal coronavirus relief was used for basic supplies such as personal protective equipment, and cleaning and testing supplies.

But then, the Indiana Finance Authority allowed local governments to submit public safety salaries for reimbursement. Those are salaries that all local governments had in their budgets, but the state and federal government allowed for this reimbursement to get all of the 2020 federal coronavirus relief into the hands of local government.

Todd Clevenger is with the Hamilton County Auditor’s Office. “They asked us to submit payroll expenses for front-line employees. Their definition of front-line employees was law enforcement, health department workers, community corrections, and public safety communications people, so we turned that in and I believe $8 million of the $10 million dollars was sent to us for payroll expense,” Clevenger said.

According to the Indiana Finance Authority website, here’s the breakdown of $300 million in 2020 coronavirus relief sent to local governments:

  • Unforeseen payroll expenses: $292,066,081.16.
  • Public health expenses: $2,537,970.95.
  • Compliance measures expenses: $2,554,636.76.
  • Medical expenses: $330,010.72.
  • Economic support to small businesses: $79,456.78.
  • Other COVID-19 related expenses: $5,086.40.

Local governments have until the end of 2021 to spend the balance of their 2020 coronavirus relief.

This is the fourth story in a series we’re calling “INside Story.” The rest of Richard‘s stories looking into coronavirus relief bill spending will air each evening this week on News 8.

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