The Tompkins County Legislature is seeking community input on the use of $19.8 million in one-time funding made available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). Input is being sought through a survey asking Tompkins County residents to rank their top three priorities for the funds; priorities are limited to eight options clarified for local municipalities by the Federal Government. Results of the survey will inform discussions by the Legislature, including at the June 30, 5:30pm expanded Budget Committee of the Tompkins County Legislature where Legislators will begin the process of planning how best to spend and/or invest ARP funds (stream the June 30th meeting on YouTube).
There are a number of rules related to what the funding can be used for. The uses permitted by the Federal Government and reflected in Tompkins County’s survey are listed below:
(a) to meet residents’ additional needs for public health, mental health, and early and special education services after March 3, 2021;
(b) to respond to the needs of households that suffered economic losses as a result of Covid-19 (e.g., by providing rental assistance, expanding available child care options);
(c) to respond to the needs of small businesses and not-for-profit agencies that suffered economic losses and/or are having difficulty providing services as a result of Covid-19;
(d) to provide aid to industries like tourism, travel, and hospitality, which were particularly hard hit by the impacts of the pandemic);
(e) to provide premium pay to essential workers in the public sector;
(f) to provide premium pay to essential workers in the private sector;
(g) to the extent that the County lost revenue as a result of the pandemic, to pay for County government operations and services (e.g., restoration of funding for County staff; capital investment in infrastructure; cybersecurity upgrades; provision of public safety services); and
(h) to make necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Legislator Deborah Dawson, Chair of the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee stated, “This is an unprecedented investment in local communities across the U.S., and we have an opportunity to continue to lead our community out of the worst impacts of this pandemic.” Dawson continued, “your input is vital, it’s our goal to support the hardest hit parts of our community and make generational investments in our collective future.”