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Lorain County Commissioners Stand By Decision To Revoke Nonprofit Aid

Lorain County Commissioners are pushing back against claims they revoked more than $4 million in CARES Act funding from local organizations.

Commissioners voted 2-1 earlier this month to revoke some pandemic aid, including grants to support local health programs and small business development.

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur issued a statement Tuesday calling on the new commissioners to reinstate the funds, which were approved by the previous board of commissioners late last year, saying the move “undermines [the nonprofits’] ability to respond and the confidence of our citizenry in the community response.”

The revoked funds would have gone to organizations such as Lorain County Health and Dentistry, veterans service organizations, the Lorain County Office on Aging and Lorain County Community College’s Small Business Development Center.

More than $16 million from the CARES Act has been distributed to local organizations throughout the pandemic, said Republican Lorain County Commissioner David Moore. The grants being revoked would have been paid out of the county’s general fund, he said.

“It is not grant money until it’s issued,” Moore said. “It’s general fund money for the operation of our county.”

The county prosecutor confirmed the money being recalled was not associated with the CARES Act.

The Lorain County government is not a community foundation, Moore said in an earlier meeting, and needs the general fund for its own use. Moore wants Kaptur to pass more federal aid to support programs and services under pandemic financial strain.

“I’d love to take that money from the federal government,” Moore said. “I’ll support that all day. But I’m not going to take operational money away so that we can provide the services we’re elected to do.”

Moore and Republican Commissioner Michelle Hung, who were elected in November, voted to rescind the grants which were approved in a unanimous vote by an all-Democratic, lame duck board in late 2020.

Reporting and community discussion around the grants is full of misinformation and inaccurate statements, Moore said. The commissioners are working to improve communication with nonprofits to better understand their needs and how they can work together, he said.

“I was elected to look out for the taxpayers’ funds, and we are going to be having some budget hearings pretty soon to make sure we can make it throughout the year,” Moore said.

In response to Moore's comments, Kaptur told ideastream via email that millions in COVID relief funding has already been provided to Lorain County. She has fought for more help and will continue to do so, she said.

“When used properly, CARES Act funding allowed localities, including Lorain County, to set aside general fund dollars to bolster county agencies and service organizations representing veterans and the most vulnerable among us in a time of unprecedented need,” Kaptur said. “The decision by some on the Commission to renege on important community partners in the fight against COVID is unfortunate. I would hope they would reconsider the action they have taken.”

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