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May 4, 2020 - 6:40pm

Human Services Committee puts a hold on funding proposals for Mercy Flight, County Fair

Looking to literally buy some time while waiting to see if another round of federal stimulus funding transpires, the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee today tabled a pair of resolutions connected to Mercy Flight and the Genesee County Fair.

After hearing reports from Michael Gugliuzza, director of medical operations for Mercy Flight, and Amanda Gallo of the Genesee County Ag Society that touched upon lower revenues and uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 Pandemic, respectively, committee members voted to hold off on contracts that specified the amount of the county’s financial support for the two agencies.

The resolution for Mercy Flight funding calls for the county to contribute $12,825 to back air medical transfer service in the county for 2020. That amount is the same as what was provided in 2019.

The resolution for the Ag Society has the county’s sponsorship of 4-H Judging and Premiums during the 2020 Genesee County Fair at $11,000, which also mirrors last year’s support.

County Manager Jay Gsell informed the committee that Mercy EMS did receive money for Personal Protection Equipment and from the first round of federal stimulus because of its combined operations (ground and air service), but that wasn’t enough to make up for a drop-off in activity.

“You heard Mike talking about what the ground service and flight service have been experiencing – about a 40 percent drop in their actual service calls, and that’s really since the beginning of this year,” Gsell said. “They’re moving through it with regard to both the commitment that they have and obviously their significant presence here in the county, both at the County Airport and at Gateway II across Route 98 from the original county industrial park.”

The Genesee County Fair currently is scheduled for July 25-August 1, but those dates aren’t etched in stone due to the coronavirus and its impact upon the local business community.

“Once they have a fair date for certain, (funding is done) on a reimbursement basis – once the judging occurs,” Gsell said. “If they have it and they do the judging, then we make the payment based on the invoices, so we have a little bit of time there.”

Committee Chair Andrew Young, noting the lack of revenue and other factors, asked if this is something “that we can hold off on until we understand what’s going on with our revenue?”

To which Gsell responded: “We’d like to think that between the governor and Mr. (Robert) Mujica (Jr., NYS budget director) that they’ll fairly soon start telling us what they’re going to be doing with the state budget … and then we start looking at what that means to us in terms of general state aid and obviously sales tax – with sales tax being the really big driver.”

Gsell also said he hoped that another federal stimulus bill provides money to fund state and local governments by the end of the month, which would mean “another trillion-plus dollars is put into play across the country.”

Committee members Gregg Torrey and John Deleo along with alternate member Gordon Dibble joined Young in voting to table the resolutions, which likely will be placed on the group’s June 1 meeting agenda.

“We will wade through this,” Young said. “The funding through the next stimulus bill is really the wild card. I don’t know that we have a lot of other good news to look forward to … if it doesn’t happen, we’ll have to deal with it.”

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