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Cuyahoga County officials say CARES Act funds can't be used towards county budget

Posted at 3:22 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 18:27:53-04

CLEVELAND — The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on our communities and in turn our local governments. With so many businesses closed, Cuyahoga County officials say the county is projected to lose $76 million in revenue and they can’t use federal money to fill those gaps.

At Friday’s Cuyahoga County Board of Health press conference, County Executive Armond Budish says the county received $215 million from the federal CARES Act. However, Budish says that money can only be used to pay coronavirus related expenses.

“That money is very, very limited in how it can be used,” Budish said.

It can’t be used to support the county’s budget or pay for budgeted expenses. So, to help offset the loss of revenue, Budish has asked county workers to take two week furloughs.

RELATED: Cuyahoga County furloughing workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

“I’ve instructed that there'll be a hiring freeze at the county. And I'm asking our departments to propose 15% budget cuts,” Budish said.

Budish says making those decisions was tough, but they’re essential to manage the county’s finances. He says some people have urged the county to wait to see if the federal government allows more money to be used towards the budget before taking these proactive measures. However, he says it can’t wait.

“It would be irresponsible to wait to start our money saving moves. The cuts we're making are hard. They're very difficult. And they're painful, but I can tell you that for every month that we wait, if the federal government does not give us more money or more flexibility, it'll just get harder and harder to fill our growing budget hole,” Budish said.

Budish says the county has reached out to federal lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow them to use money from the CARES Act towards the budget. Those efforts haven’t been successful, but he says they’ll keep trying.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.