ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Chemung County Executive Chris Moss and Chemung County 7th District Legislator Christina Sonsire hosted a town hall meeting to discuss ways the county can spend more than $16 million received through the American Rescue Plan. Also in attendance were Jennifer Furman, County Treasurer, and Steven Hoover, Chemung County Budget Director.
The town hall was held at the West Elmira Community Center at 6 p.m. to explain ways the money can be used and allow residents to share their thoughts on how to best spend it.
A survey is also available for residents to provide input on how to spend the money. Chris Moss and Christina Sonsire are specifically looking for ways to spend the money that will result in ongoing increased revenue for the County.
Funds may be used by state and local governments for:
- Costs associated with responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including but not limited to, assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality
- To support workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work
- To cover revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency
- To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds are paid directly to the County by the Federal Government. County Executive Chris Moss made it clear that the money cannot be used to provide a tax break, as much as he might like to be able to do that. Moss indicated he would like to spend a portion of the ARP money on capital projects such as replacing the 911 Center with Next Generation 911. The County has a $160 million sewer project planned over the next few years. Even without the sewer project, other capital projects average $11 million per year over the next few years. Chris Moss indicated that spending the money on capital projects would reduce the need to borrow and bond to pay for projects in the future which would reduce the likelihood of property tax increases.
Moss expressed that he has been having ongoing conversations with the City of Elmira and other local community leaders regarding the use of the funds and the potential to work together on some projects such as Dunn Field and the broadband buildout.
Other proposed uses for the money include:
- Giving money to Non-Profit Organizations
- The hospitality industry
- Restaurants and local businesses in the “Orange Zone” designated by the State during the Pandemic
- Moss stated that the Chemung County Nursing Facility typically runs at a $3 million deficit and that a portion of the funds from the ARP will likely go towards settling that deficit.
Any plans for the money must be approved by the County Legislature. Chris Moss was optimistic that they could have a plan approved as early as September 2021.
In addition to discussing the ARP funds, Chris Moss praised the Food Bank of the Southern Tier for their work during the Pandemic stating they, “did a phenomenal job.” He also recognized the work of Pete Buzzetti, Public Health Director throughout the Pandemic along with the Health Department as a whole.