Stimulus checks: Towns, villages could see a boost in aid this time
WASHINGTON, DC — Sullivan County could see $15 million in federal aid now that the Democrats' stimulus plan has passed the Senate.
Congressman Antonio Delgado held a Zoom roundtable discussion on Wednesday with more than a hundred local officials, including several from Sullivan County.
Part of the package will go to states, part to cities and part to "non-counties" including small towns and villages.
The $234 million slated for NY-19 "can be used to respond to or mitigate COVID or mitigate its negative impacts," Delgado said. That would include replacing lost revenue.
The money for cities and towns would be sent to the state government first, but "the state is merely a holding station," he said. "The state cannot change funding allocations or impose any additional [requirements]."
Sullivan County Manager Josh Potosek asked if the funds for New York State itself might offset threatened aid cuts.
"We can't dictate at the federal level how a state manages its budget," Delgado said. But the $12.6 billion meant for New York State "should plug up some of that shortfall."
Small towns and communities in Pennsylvania would receive just under a billion dollars total, but a county-by-county breakdown wasn't available. The state itself would receive $7.35 billion.
Funding for small towns is a change, Delgado said, from previous stimulus packages, which gave funding to cities with populations larger than 50,000.
Once the package has passed, he said, he'll work with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the U.S. Treasury Department to get the money to local governments "as quickly and seamlessly as possible." Republicans have argued that the funding should only go to those communities that have lost revenue in the pandemic.
According to last month's Sullivan County Treasurer's report, the county's finances were badly impacted by the pandemic. The closure of Resorts World Catskills for much of the year meant a decrease of $1.6 million in gaming revenue compared to 2019. Room tax was down almost $600,000. Sales tax was the bright spot, at an increase of $1.86 million over 2019, as people shopped from home. But the state has warned counties to expect cuts in aid for 2021 as it faces shortfalls of its own.
Final approval of the $1.9 trillion legislation will happen Tuesday.
The aid can't come soon enough for counties like Sullivan.
"Considering we're still facing as much as 10 percent cuts in state aid, this federal stimulus funding couldn't come at a better time and will be used to offset any revenue shortfalls we have, or delays in receiving revenue," Potosek said later. "We will also earmark these funds for a multitude of COVID-19-related expenses that will continue for the foreseeable future."
The county had many projects in the works when COVID-19 shattered revenue. Now there's some hope that they'll move forward more quickly. "There may be enough left over to bolster initiatives like broadband expansion and composting, as well," Potosek continued. "I am deeply thankful to Congressman Delgado for his leadership in ensuring this stimulus package includes local municipalities—including all our towns and villages, who will also see a significant and needed fiscal boost."