Local leaders discuss impact of possible COVID-19 relief plan

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BROOME COUNTY – If the U-S Senate passes and President Biden signs the American Rescue Plan as passed by the House last week, Binghamton and Broome County could be in for a large windfall of federal aid.

Under a funding formula promoted by Congressman Antonio Delgado, Broome would receive 36 million dollars while the Binghamton metro area is slated to get 48 million.

The money would help offset revenue losses last year, mostly in the form of decreased sales taxes when businesses were shut down.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney says that while she’s concerned that only about 9 percent of the 1 point 9 trillion dollar package goes directly to COVID relief, she says some form of financial assistance is needed.

“I come from a district that’s driven by small businesses. They’ve been hurt the most in this pandemic. So, many of them have been forced to close permanently or forced to go only 50% capacity, especially restaurants. They desperately need the resources. But our school districts and our local governments have also suffered from the shutdown. They need resources, we need vaccines, we need testing. We need to make sure we can get people back to school, back to work and back to a more normal life,” says Tenney.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says the money is also important to cover additional expenses incurred due to the pandemic.

The county had to procure testing supplies and personal protective equipment and the health department has had to staff people to do contact tracing, business inspections and work the mass vaccination clinic.

“We’re still making very difficult decisions about who can we hire this week. How much cash do we have on hand? Can we hire people this week even though they’ve been budgeted? We still have a hiring freeze. We have to staff up our PODs right now. At some point, we’re going to be vaccinating well over 2,000 people per day at our SUNY Broome POD. That’s going to require a lot of resources.”

New York State stands to receive 23 and a half billion dollars in relief which is also good news for counties and municipalities

That’s because the state has been withholding 20 percent of its reimbursements on money it owes to them.

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