INside Story

So far, no issues in spending $3B of federal coronavirus relief, Indiana auditor says

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 sent $3 billion to Indiana.

The coronavirus relief act’s money was distributed across the state based on population and need. In the beginning, the money was used to buy items not in the budgets of local governments, but then the rules changed and cities, towns and counties found ways to spend the money.

The city of new Castle was allotted $560,000 of coronavirus relief money. They used it to buy essential persona protective equipment, testing supplies, and medical equipment. The money from the federal act had to be used by the end of 2020, and the city later was given permission by Indiana Finance Authority to renovate a building with $90,000 of the cash.

New Castle Mayor Greg York gave I-Team 8 a tour of the facility several months ago. He the city already owned the building and renovated the space to quarantine public safety employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 35 employees who tested positive for the virus, only one actually used the facility. The building is now used for emergency medical training and office space.

The city also spent close to $2,000 dollars of the 2020 federal money to reupholster chairs in a break room with an easy-to-clean vinyl fabric.

Earlier this spring, I-Team 8 showed the drone bought by the city of Rushville with the 2020 federal relief money. The mayor, the parks director and the city special project manager allowed I-Team to attach its camera to Rushville’s drone for a flight around downtown.

Paul Joyce, the state examiner with Indiana State Board of Accounts, said, “I would not have thought originally, ‘Hey, how can you use a drone for this purpose.’ After I first saw it, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) actually created guidelines on using drones for COVID.”

The drone cost $4,657.55 At that time, the city of Rushville had not spent all of the $196,000 allotment of 2020 coronavirus relief. 

Part of Joyce’s job to make sure every dime of the 2020 coronavirus relief act spent in Indiana is accounted for. His office has started the auditing process and has not found any serious issues so far.

Joyce told I-Team 8, though, he does expect to find some issues. If money from the 2020 coronavirus relief act is misused for personal gain, it could be a violation of federal law.