NEW YORK (WETM) – Counties in New York were given funding from the American Rescue Plan in June. After meetings held through July, they now have a sense of what areas they want to allocate these funds, and where they don’t.
Funds from the American Rescue Plan were mainly intended for COVID relief. But, along with that, local counties are looking to invest in infrastructure projects that could not be completed last year.
“We have millions of dollars worth of projects, there, and I think we are going to be able to leverage the ARP funds towards,” said Chemung County Executive, Chris Moss.
Steuben County is also planning to put an emphasis on infrastructure with projects such as building modernization and highway repairs. More importantly, internet access is a huge issue, especially in the more rural areas in the county, that is expected to be tackled with the ARP funds, says Steuben County Manager, Jack Wheeler.
“Believe it or not, even where I live in Savona, I don’t have access to high-speed internet,” said Steuben County Legislator Kelly Fitzpatrick, who hopes the funds will contribute to the issue of broadband.
Some counties received much more than their incurred losses from COVID. For example, Steuben County received $18 million from the ARP, but pandemic losses were half of that, projected at $9 million.
When this bill was introduced, many opponents criticized the amount of money that was given out. Now that the bill has been put into effect, even Moss is worried about inflation.
“Inflation is going to hit because of the amount of money that has been infused into the economy… I think we would have been better off giving municipalities what they could prove that they had lost as opposed to some of the amounts that were given,” said Moss.
Both Steuben and Chemung County executives have made it clear that they will not be using the one-time cash infusion to hire staff, give bonuses, or expand government.
“It’s about finding those targeted investments that not only help the county but also help the citizens,” said Wheeler, Steuben County Manager. “Not setting ourselves up in a position wherein a couple of years we have to really look back and take a hard look at those programs that we created because they are not sustainable any longer.”
Local county executives said their main agenda is to invest the money wisely and doing that with a focus on avoiding increased costs for taxpayers and creating sustainable long-term programs.