Peters Township Council approved a series of expenditures Monday with the anticipation of reimbursement for most of them through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
One aspect of the act, which was signed into law March 27, is to provide funding to help mitigate the financial impact on municipalities in addressing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to information presented at the council meeting, more than $634,000 has been allocated to the township by Washington County, which is administering CARES Act funding on behalf of its municipalities.
An estimated $116,000 of the Peters amount would go toward reimbursement for salaries paid to township employees who were ordered to stay at home or took sick leave because of COVID-19.
The remainder is for local projects that are likely to be covered by the federal money. Township manager Paul Lauer and David Ball, council chairman, met with county officials to try to make determinations in that regard.
“We need guidance now, because to be able to get these things ordered, purchased and paid for by Nov. 30 is extremely quick,” Lauer said during the council meeting, referencing the date stipulated for completion of projects.
“Normally, when these types of programs are done, they’re followed with a regulatory process and rulemaking process that could take years,” he told council. “With regard to the CARES Act, because of the nature of what they were trying to deal with, there weren’t any rules. And so everyone is sitting there confused or concerned, because one thing the federal government has made clear is that if you guess wrong, you will repay us.”
Among the items approved by council was awarding a contract for the design of a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system for Peters Township Public Library, to McKim & Creed of Franklin Park at a cost of $31,800.
“This was a project that was in the 2020 budget but, quite frankly, it was deferred as a result of the concern over the COVID impact on township finances,” Lauer said. “Part of the reason why it qualifies under the CARES Act is that we’re going to be asking McKim & Creed to pay special attention to the air-handling systems and also to look at the possibility of including in the design equipment designed to disinfect the air.”
Council also awarded three contracts to ZOLL Medical Corp. of Chelmsford, Mass., for the purchase of emergency-related equipment:
- Three medical monitors and defibrillators for use by Peters Township Fire Department, $139,364.
The intent was to order six of the units, with half of them for the Peters Township VFW 764 Ambulance Service.
“Because of the manner in which the ambulance service is incorporated, they are not able to receive any benefits through the CARES Act,” Lauer said. “They are not an eligible recipient, nor are we allowed to hold on to the equipment in our name and allow them to use it.”
He said the service is an extension of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 764, not a separate organization.
- Touchless automated cardiopulmonary resuscitation system, $42,660.
“These are three medical devices that work in conjunction with the monitors and defibrillators,” Lauer said.
- Sixteen automated external defibrillators, $36,032.12.
“We have a variety of external defibrillators throughout the township, and what this would do is to replace those,” Lauer said, plus provide an additional device for use by the parks and recreation department.
A $79,800 contract was awarded to Freedom Enterprises & Associates of Cranberry Township for the purchase and installation of an automatic door system for the Community Recreation Center at Peterswood Park. The company has worked in Peters on renovations to the municipal building and main fire station.
Council also approved spending $37,741.51 for an update of the municipal website by Civic Plus of Manhattan, Kan.
“Although it has been allowed as a CARES expense elsewhere, Washington County’s position is that this website will not qualify under the CARES Act,” Lauer said.
The township’s 2020 budget, though, includes a $42,500 allocation for the project.
“If you look at our website, it’s fairly dated in terms of its appearance and its functionality,” Lauer said. “I’m hoping this is a little bit more user-friendly.”