GALION — Galion City Council took steps Tuesday during its regular meeting — made public via Zoom and Facebook — to help local businesses struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to make it easier for the City of Galion Health Department care for area residents who may have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Council members transferred $50,000 in funding to the health department to help monitor residents who may have been affected with COVID-19, and for contact tracing, which is the way the health department locates those who may have come into contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus.
Galion health department director Trish Factor said the money is necessary to do the job they are required to do by the State of Ohio.
“We are monitoring every person in Galion who we believe could have COVID-19” she said. “We check with them twice each day, seven days a week. Then, if a positive test comes back, that’s when we go back and try to get in contact with anyone the infected person could have infected.
While mass testing of residents has been an unmet goal for weeks, Factor said the health department has little to do with the number of people tested.
“But we can make certain we have the contract tracers we need,” she said.
O’Leary expressed dissatisfaction with the continued promises of help from the state and federal governments, but the lack of actual results.
“No one is looking out for Galion except Galion. Not the state, not the feds. We need to do what we can do to take care of ourselves,” he said.
Council also passed legislation transferring money to the Galion Port Authority to establish a loan program to immediately help businesses in Galion affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
“This would be very beneficial to the community at this time … and in the future,” said Chadd Miller, of the Port Authority. “The reason The Port was created was to spur economic development. In the future, this is the type of program that provide support for some who may not be able to secure regular loans for their businesses.”
The city will give $190,000 to the Port Authority, which would then have the ability to approve one-year, zero interest loans. If they loan is not repaid within a year, interested would be charged on the outstanding loan amount.
“These loans would max out at $5,000, and they would need to be used for job creation, or job retention,” O’Leary said . “We need to get these out as fast as we can to those who need them. Right now they can be used to help existing businesses that have been knocked off their feet by COVID-19.”
O’Leary said the money is coming from funds originally ear-marked for development of the Galion Depot and his own fund, which among other things is used for engineering of future projects.
It’s unknown if the money being given to start the revolving loan program will be replaced.
“But I think it’s a good trade-off,” O’Leary said.
He added there is a possibility that CARES Act money could be coming to cities that could be used to replace money given to the Galion Port Authority.
Council members also passed legislation having to do with CHIP grants.
“The partnership between Galion, Bucyrus and Crawford County remains the same. This legislation just clarifies the name of the organization that will administer the program.
Legislating setting limits for a possible credit card to be use by the city, was discussed for more than 30 minutes, and was then moved onto a third reading in the future. No consensus was reached on the limits that should be imposed. And there remains disagreement on whether a city credit card is even necessary, who would be allowed to use it and under what circumstances it may be used.
Law Director Thomas Palmer clarified that whether a credit card is actually approved, a credit card policy is mandated by the state