Lorain Council committee ponders COVID-19 Rescue Act spending – The Morning Journal

Lorain City Council will consider $2.93 million in expenditures from the city’s allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act.
On Oct. 11, Council spent more than an hour discussing grants proposed by Mayor Jack Bradley and his administration from the federal money sent as economic relief for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Council Finance & Claims Committee, with all members present, recommended the full board consider the relevant legislation, which could come as early as the next regular meeting on Oct. 17.
The city has an allocation of $32.49 million in American Rescue Plan Act money and has received half so far.
On Oct. 11, officials agreed their priorities and the citizens’ priorities are using the federal money for public safety and keeping water and sewer costs under control.
Bradley explained the federal criteria and his own for judging the requests that come to his office. The proposals prompted comments and ideas from council members about other ways to improve the city.
Council members Beth Henley of Ward 1, Rob McFarland of Ward 2, Pamela Carter of Ward 3, Greg Argenti of Ward 4, JoAnne Moon of Ward 5, Rey Carrion of Ward 6, Cory Shawver of Ward 7, Councilman Joshua Thornsberry of Ward 8, and At-Large Councilwoman Mary Springowski and councilmen Mitch Fallis and Tony Dimacchia were present, with Council President Joel Arredondo. They also heard some public questions and comments from residents Tom Springowski; Rita Garcia, owner of Rita’s Christian Academy childcare center; and Lynne Christner.
Lorain money must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by 2026, Bradley said.
Various businesses and nonprofit organizations have requested money, so he consults federal rules and his own experience in judging amounts to be spent, the mayor said. Rescue involves the head and the heart to be successful, Bradley said.
Applicants must provide detailed information about COVID-19-related expenses or losses, such as closures, having fewer customers or inability to hold fundraising events, Bradley said.
Some cities have been slow to spend the money based on uncertainty about federal funding available, or having to return some, based on congressional deliberations about a nationwide infrastructure bill, he said.
The proposed spending plan includes $2.75 million, half the amount needed to hire 10 new officers of the Lorain Police Department for five years. The city will allocate the same amount when Lorain receives a second round of ARPA funding, Bradley said.
Auditor Karen Shawver repeated her support for the police department. But she cautioned that Lorain will have to find a way to pay for the officers when the federal money runs out.
Dimacchia, Springowski, Henley and Carrion all agreed on public safety as a top priority. Carter said her constituents agreed with hiring officers, but emphasized they don’t want another tax, even for police.
Paving the parking lot of the Disabled American Veterans Louis Paul Proy Chapter 20, $14,110.
The project fits guidelines for assisting a nonprofit, Bradley said. The parking lot is desperately needed and will allow veterans better access to the post, Springowski said.
The amount was based on a price quote from Griffith Paving Inc. of Sheffield Village.
Paving the parking lot of Muzik’s Auto Care will receive $17,000.
The third-generation family owned car repair shop is a mainstay of the business community. Owner John Muzik estimated the cost of the job and requested $17,000.
Lorain City Council chambers renovations, $5,869.59.
In Lorain City Hall, the first-floor chamber has a pillar that appears to be load-bearing in the middle of the room. Council members, city officials and residents agree it impairs the sightlines for discussion and presentations.
The pillar likely cannot be removed, Springowski said. But laptop computer docking stations at council members’ seats would make a nice addition.
Christner, a current council candidate, suggested using television monitors in the corners of the room to aid sighting for officials and residents. She also criticized the room layout, which currently has Springowski, Cory Shawver and Thornsberry sit with their backs to the audience.
The room also would benefit from blinds for the room’s western windows because sunset can be blinding during evening meetings, Christner said. Springowski agreed and said she wanted to wear her sunglasses during some meetings.
The money covered $4,850 for a room study by Westlake-based About the Stage and $1,019.59 for freight costs for new seating, according to records from Clerk of Council Nancy Greer.
New iPad computer tablets for the city Utilities Department, $16,841.49, the amount requested by city Utilities Director Paul Wilson.
The expenditure prompted Carrion to suggest using a computerized maintenance management system to measure how city workers spend their time. He noted sometimes Lorainites see project sites where one worker is working and three are standing and the city cannot improve what it cannot measure.
Headlinerz Barbershop, a 10-year-old shop in South Lorain, will receive $10,000.
Carrion said he has met with owner Gilberto M. “Pito Da Barber” Quinones and, like Rita’s Christian Academy, it is a business that has invested its sweat and equity in the city.
Quinones requested $46,250 from the city to cover expenses ranging from rent to air quality improvements to loss of revenue.
Equipment for the International City Baseball league, $75,583.31.
International City Baseball uses secondhand equipment to maintain fields at Campana Park, Bradley said.
The last two years have been a time of uncertainty for children, but parks and sports give them a sense of normalcy, parameters and a schedule, Springowski said.
Volunteer baseball leagues have provided an economic effect worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Carrion said, citing earlier city data.
The amount is what the league requested to cover the cost of a Ventrac tractor with seven attachments to maintain 11 baseball diamonds and a 61-inch zero-turn mower to cut grass.
Councilman-at-Large Mitch Fallis abstained from discussion and voting because he serves as league treasurer.
Lorain Lighthouse Foundation expenses, $25,000.
The Lorain Lighthouse is probably one of the coolest not just in Ohio, but around the Great Lakes, Bradley said. It is crucial to tourism and the city cannot afford to lose it, he said.
The request was for $48,500 to cover operating costs and lost revenues for 2020 and 2021 seasons, according to the request from Lorain Lighthouse Foundation Board Chairman Frank Sipkovsky.
FireFish Arts requested $50,000 to support the future of the arts festival in 2022 and beyond, said the letter from Director Joan Perch. The city will contribute $25,000.
Bradley said he may be biased in the request because this year’s arts festival was the best time he had in a long time.
Ward 5 Councilwoman JoAnne Moon agreed, calling the festival’s annual burning of the FireFish a wonderful time. She added this summer she stayed in Lorain for FireFish and other social events and had fun, with few, if any, reported problems with crime or safety.
With FireFish, some friends visited Lorain wondering where they could find the fried fish, Moon said. She suggested that might be an addition for future festivals.


Book an appointment