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IRONTON — Lawrence County could get $800,000 for COVID-19 relief funding from the state, according to county officials.

“We have spent that much,” Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. said Tuesday. “It’s not new money or extra money. It’s just reimbursement for our costs.”

Commissioner Colton Copley said the state has earmarked some $800,000 for costs to Lawrence County due to the pandemic.

“We have to show it was used for coronavirus relief,” Copley said. “It’s not a gift for the general fund.”

The money won’t replace the downturn in sales tax money the county is expecting due to the pandemic, he said.

“This is good news,” Copley said. Dealing with the pandemic “has been an expensive process. It will help cover our costs.”

The Lawrence County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday about getting state funds to reimburse the county’s expenses for dealing with the pandemic.

The board earlier asked county officials to look at the consequences of a 20% cut to 2020 funding. Some of that was used to come up with the $800,000 estimate. No cutbacks have been approved by the board yet. It did give an estimate on what services to the public could be lost due to spending for the pandemic, Copley said.

“We have to balance our budget,” Copley said.

Meanwhile, the county is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Copley said. The Lawrence County Health Department has seen five new COVID-19 cases in the past week, he said.

In other action, the board agreed to remove about seven old, worn-out police cruisers from the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Jeff Lawless has asked for at least five new cruisers, but the board is holding off on the purchase until results from the impact of the pandemic is known.

County sales tax revenues were down $105,000 in March when the pandemic closed schools and people were asked to stay at home. Chris Kline, deputy county auditor, said he expects revenues to be worse when April sales taxes are announced in July.

“We could face declining revenues for the next year to 18 months,” Kline said.

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