ELYRIA, Ohio — Some Lorain County residents are upset with the rescinding of more than 4 million in grants to two dozen non-profit agencies by the newly seated county commissioners, the grants approved by out-going commissioners just last month.
Victoria Kempton with the Lorain County Consumer Coalition citizens group says the loss of grant dollars will hurt hundreds of families struggling financially due to the on-going pandemic.
“It is going to be devastating to the people of the county of Lorain, and it going to be even more devastating for the people that live in the city.”
“People will suffer, children, seniors, veterans. People standing in food lines, people’s water will be shut-off.”
“This is not a maybe thing, we need these services and resources to survive.”
“Lorain County Community Action has been the only backstop for people getting help with utility bills.”
“El Centro was supposed to receive $500,000 as well, and they are dispersing funds, helping people to stay in their homes.”
Julie Chase-Morefield, CEO with Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, told News 5 she was disappointed with the commissioners decision to rollback the grants. Chase-Morefield said her agency lost $110,000 in grant money at a time when needy families have doubled in the past several months.
“The non-profits in the community need every dollar to be able to help these low-income families that have been so effected by the pandemic," Chase-Morefield said. “I’ve never seen anything that parallels this type of need.”
Tom Williams, Lorain County Administrator for Board of Commissioners, told News 5 it was a very difficult decision, but the Commissioner were left with a nearly $16 million dollar budget shortfall, and said more deficit spending would have caused budget cuts in key county departments.
“We’re spending more money than we’re bringing in, that’s going to lower the bond rating, that’s going to hurt our interest and being able to do capital projects,” Williams said.
“It would be very difficult to ask those officials to go through and take a budget cut, while the Commissioners gave out over 4 million dollars.”
“Your county judges, your sheriff, your recorder, your auditor, the coroner would have to be asked to take cuts."
Williams said all three Commissioners are exploring solutions to this budgetary dilemma, speaking with some of the non-profit agencies who lost grants, hoping to give an update on the situation sometime next week.
Still, Kemption and other Lorain County residents hope the Commissioners find a better way to deal with their budget issues.
“I would ask them to think about the monstrous results that are going to happen because of their decision," Kempton said.
“I would ask them to repeal this immediately, repeal the decision and think about the people who will suffer because of their decision.”