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Allow Flexibility On Local Funds

Jefferson County commissioners are better qualified than anyone in Columbus or Washington to decide how to dole out federal funds intended to counteract COVID-19’s damage to the economy.

Last week, commissioners discussed using part of the county’s allocation to help financially strapped private and non-profit entities. Federal CARES Act rules permit them to do that.

State regulations may not.

Though such aid has been provided by some other local governments — and the state itself — there is a question about legality of such action. The state “hasn’t permitted an allowance for the county commissioners to do it,” remarked Commissioner Dave Maple last week.

It is possible such permission has been granted but the word has not trickled down to Jefferson County, of course. If so, good. But if not, Gov. Mike DeWine and others in Columbus should provide the flexibility sought in Jefferson County.

Safeguards are needed to ensure the money is handled appropriately — certainly, without any favoritism involved in the process.

But not allowing commissioners to help those most in need of assistance makes no sense.

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