In a show of solidarity, the Marshall County Council unanimously voted to send the American Rescue Plan additional appropriation request back to the commissioners for clarification.
Council President Mandy Campbell read the additional appropriation request for the American Rescue Plan to appropriate $300,000 to aid non-profit organizations, $2 million for the Regional Sewer Project, $1 million to extend broadband, $1 million for highway material, $1 million for highway professional services, $1 million for highway equipment and $100,000 for administrative expenses for a total of $6.4 million of the $8.9 million the county is set to receive.
Councilman Jesse Bohannon asked who was requesting the additional and was told the commissioners. He then asked if the commissioners had voted on the ARP plan additional request and was told yes. Bohannon said he went back and listened to the meeting and said Mr. Clevenger, Mrs. Fox, and Mr. Overmyer said it was a procedural step and not an actual vote on the ARP fund appropriation request. He then asked Commissioner Klotz if his understanding of the commissioner’s action in the April meeting was to get the county’s plan in place by the deadline and not to appropriate the funds into the various categories. Mr. Klotz agreed.
Councilman Jon VanVactor had the minutes from the Commissioner’s April 4th meeting. The minutes said they talked about the ARP appropriation, Mike Burroughs moved and Stan Klotz seconded the motion to support the number set forth. At the April 18th meeting of the commissioners, the April 4th minutes were adopted with Commissioner Burroughs’ motion and Mr. Klotz’s second and was voted 3-0.
Councilman Bohannan then said, “I would caution commissioners to not accept the verbal assurance of the other commissioners and only be concerned with what’s on paper in front of them. My impression was there would be an additional debate on it before we saw it and I don’t think this has been transparent.”
Challenging Auditor Julie Fox, Bohannon said she was one of the ones who assured Commissioner Klotz that the numbers discussed during their meeting were not the numbers that would be presented to the council for consideration. She explained saying the commissioners need to get the funds appropriated but they can move the funds as they get their plan moving forward.
Councilman VanVactor said, “The written minutes were provided, and Commissioner Klotz voted 3-0 to accept those minutes as written. But I see where we are going with all this, and quite frankly, for the American Rescue Plan additionals here, I would make the motion this be tabled and sent back to the commissioners.”
His motion was seconded by Bohannon and unanimously approved by the County Council.
Councilman Jim Masterson said he didn’t believe the council should appropriate funds that they don’t have in hand. Indicating that the county will receive the second half of the $8.9 million this summer.
Councilman Heath Thornton reminded the council and those in the audience that it is not the duty of the county to make the plan on how best to use the ARP funds, it’s the commissioners.