Marshall County commissioners Monday hired accounting firm Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, McPherson, to assist county employees in administering a $1.9 million federal pandemic-relief grant.

The grant requires large amounts of paperwork over a short period of time. The county must turn in a plan by Aug. 15 for how the grant monies will be spent. The state’s SPARK Taskforce, which is overseeing the distribution of federal CARES Act funds, will have until Sept. 15 to either approve or deny the plan. If the plan is approved, the county will have until Dec. 31 to spend the grant funds

The commissioners discussed hiring either the McPherson firm or North Central Regional Planning Commission as the grant’s administrator with emergency management director Bill Schwindamann, County Clerk Sandy Wilson and County Treasurer Jami Ellenbecker.

Ellenbecker said Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd would be willing to assist county employees in administering the grant for a maximum fee of $35,000 and NCRPC was asking for a maximum fee of 5 percent of the grant — about $95,000 — to provide all grant administration services.

Holle said he wanted to have the McPherson firm help so that county employees don’t get overwhelmed with work.

“Their firm will help with determining eligibility and appropriate documentation and preparation of reports and submissions,” said Ellenbecker.

Before making a decision, the commissioners spoke with NCRPC administrative assistant Keegan Bailey, who said it is important the grant is properly dispersed and documented because entities that use the money could be required to repay it if an audit determines that it was not used properly.

Schwindamann said all entities in the county that are eligible for the grant, including city governments and school districts, have been contacted about applying and must sign a compliance letter. He said only two compliance letters have been received by the county, so far.

In other action,


— Met with county public works administrator Mike Craig. He updated the board on the county’s effort to provide up to 80 free ounces of the herbicide Escort to landowners to prevent the spread of sericea lespedeza.

— Hired Cook, Flatt & Strobel, Topeka, to provide engineering services of a decommissioning report and road maintenance for the Irish Creek Wind Project. The firm is providing the same services for the Soldier Creek Wind Farm construction in Nemaha County. Commissioner Keith Bramhall said the board chose to hire the Topeka firm because they will bring the lessons they learn in Nemaha County to this project.