Warren County commissioner: Don’t send us federal COVID-19 relief funds

A Warren County commissioner would prefer the county not receive an estimated allocation of nearly $46 million in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Commissioner David Young, who is serving as the commission president this year, is objecting because of the amount it will raise the national debt to more than $30 trillion and would prefer that amount to be deducted from the overall amount being distributed.

Young said the county was notified by the National Association of County Officials that Warren County was projected to receive about $45.9 million in the new stimulus package. He said this was after an email went out to local and state governments to see how much funding they needed for coronavirus relief.

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Young told a Cincinnati radio station if he had to, he’d rather collect the federal funding and reduce county property taxes if it’s permissible by the federal rules regulating the disbursement of American Rescue Plan funding.

Young is concerned because of the rising federal debt and has previously written a letter to Congress to “please do not send us this money.”

He said the county turned away some federal money in 2020 because “it had no common sense and no business sense.”

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While interest rates are at historic lows, the current $523 billion a year in interest being paid for the 2020 stimulus, he said those interest payments could balloon to $2 trillion a year if the interest rates rise between 4% to 7%. “When interest rates go up, inflation will be going up,” he said.

“I wish that people would put the financial needs of the nation before themselves,” Young said. “We haven’t spent all the money from the last stimulus package.” He claims about 90% of the new package does not go for coronavirus relief and there was a large bailout for local and state governments.

Commissioners Shannon Jones and Tom Grossmann could not be reached for comment.

County Administrator Tiffany Zindel said the commissioners have not discussed the issue as a body and that the county has not received additional information or rules on how the federal stimulus package funds could be spent.

Zindel said Warren County’s general obligation debt is just under $24 million. She said about $905,000 for radio upgrades will be paid off in 2022; and nearly $19.5 million for the new county jail will be paid off in 2023.

This is not the first time a Warren County commissioner wanted to decline a large amount of federal stimulus funding.

About 12 years ago, then county commissioner Mike Kilburn said that he’d “rather let Warren County go broke rather than take any of (President Barack) Obama’s filthy dirty money” that the county was in line for in the 2009 economic stimulus plan.

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