Elkhart council mulls $500,000 to fight coronavirus

ELKHART — City Council on Tuesday night was considering the appropriation of $500,000 for an emergency coronavirus response fund.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund may be used as determined by Mayor Rod Roberson to buy supplies, pay employees, contract professional services and provide space for the homeless who may need isolation from regular homeless shelters.

Roberson, if the ordinance that includes the appropriation is approved, can make emergency expenditures from the fund with City Council President Brent Curry’s approval, subject to the ratification by the City Council after the public health emergency has ended.

The $500,000 comes from the Economic Development Local Income Tax Fund. If any of the $500,000 has not been spent at the end of the emergency, it will return to that fund.

For city employees who need to take leave in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, recently approved federal legislation requires that they are provided with two-thirds of their regular compensation. With the approval of this city ordinance, the city will pay the remaining third, allowing those employees to be compensated at their regular rate.

The ordinance was discussed at a special call meeting of the City Council that Roberson announced last week. Yet, he said, the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has changed after Holcomb’s announcement Monday of a stay-at-home order beginning Wednesday. So, Roberson said, the ordinance discussed Tuesday was not going to be proposed until after Holcomb issued his executive order.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

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