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American Rescue Plan Act

August 25, 2021 - 8:52pm

This afternoon’s approval of a new sales tax allocation agreement with the City of Batavia – a move that clears the way for the annual distribution of $10 million in sales tax revenue to Genesee County towns and villages – was a significant moment in the eyes of County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein.

So significant, in fact, that she marked the occasion with a resounding swing of her gavel on its wooden block.

“I’m excited (by this),” she said after legislators unanimously passed the “Modified Amended and Restated Sales Tax Allocation Agreement Between the County of Genesee and the City of Batavia.”

Stein, no doubt, also was relieved that lawmakers passed this and a subsequent, connected resolution ratifying the Town of Darien’s willingness to enter into an “Amended and Restated Water Supply Agreement” with the county.

On the first resolution, the sales tax allocation agreement between the city and county doesn’t change, but it does add wording statilng that the city has no objections to the county’s plan to distribute $10 million in sales tax money collected on a yearly basis to the towns and villages for the next 38 years.

The second resolution was made possible when the Darien Town Board, on Wednesday night, voted to sign a new water supply agreement with Genesee County. Darien was the last municipality to opt in and, by doing so, enables the county to share the full $10 million in sales tax and not a combination of sales tax and other revenue.

The new water supply contract – it’s the same for all municipalities – gives the county the right to raise the surcharge on water usage beyond the 60-cents per 1,000 gallons level, but also requires the county to petition the Monroe County Water Authority in seven years to enact an equalized water rate throughout the county.

“Sharing the $10 million was the goal of this legislature,” Stein said, as she congratulated her colleagues on achieving that goal.

In other action, the legislature voted in favor of contracting with EFPR Group, CPAs, PLLC, of Williamsville, a consulting firm, for assistance in how to spend money received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The contract is for up to $10,000 for the two years of the contract, which includes the option of three, one-year renewals. The cost will be paid from ARPA funds.

County Manager Matt Landers told legislators that the ARPA grant can be used to fund water and broadband projects, but there are “a lot of nuances” to the guidelines. He said EFRP has “extensive experience” in this area and is familiar with the process.

Landers also said he doesn’t think it will cost $10,000 in the first year, but probably closer to $5,000.

Previously: Darien opts in to water agreement after receiving assurances that county will pursue equalized rate

May 29, 2021 - 12:39pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, American Rescue Plan Act, CARES Act, genesee county.

More than $11 million from the American Rescue Plan Act has Genesee County’s name on it, but it’s too early to speculate exactly how that money will be used, County Manager Matt Landers reported to legislators earlier this week.

Landers, in outlining the four areas on which the money can be spent, said he emphasized to county lawmakers that the current federal guidelines have been released on an interim basis and the final rule is not expected until mid-July.

“Between not having the final rule yet, plus the fact that the feds are doing this in a two-traunch allocation of the money, no official roadmap of how were going to spend the $11,125,969 has been drawn up,” Landers said.

“They’re doing this specifically because they don’t want you to spend all of the money now. They want you to evaluate how the pandemic is progressing and to be able to adjust later on with the funding they give you.”

Payments, in equal installments, to municipalities will be made sometime this year and again 12 months later.

According to a directive from the federal government, eligible uses are as follows:

  • To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.

Landers said his office is calculating what won’t be covered by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act (of 2020) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with outstanding expenses to be covered with ARPA funds.

“We’re still investigating what we can and can't do here regarding tourism,” he said. “I am checking to see if this is the way we can assist the Chamber of Commerce for a rebranding effort, along with assistance to some of our local businesses most impacted by the pandemic and to assist our tourism sector.”

  • To respond to workers performing essential work during COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers.
  • For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency.

Landers reported that the county treasurer’s office has calculated the amount of lost revenue by Genesee County, using the prescribed three formulas.

“The most beneficial calculation of lost revenue is approximately $6 million,” he said. “There are strings attached to this money, but early thoughts on how to utilize this portion is on the construction of the Genesee County Jail.”

He also said he is talking to department heads about possible investments and for cybersecurity upgrades proposed by the Information Technology department.

  • To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.                                                                                                    

Landers said it there could be around $5 million available for allocating to broadband and water infrastructure needs.

“Limitations on upload/download speed may impact the effectiveness of the broadband allocation,” he advised.

The county manager said he will be meeting with other county administrators on June 4 in Madison County and with New York State Association of County leaders “to put our heads together to see what works.”

“The interim final guidance provides us with a lot of information, but also a lot of questions,” he said. “It is too early to provide a complete list of recommendations, but it is safe to say we will be able to allocate all of the $11 million and will allocate it in the most impactful and transparent way.”

May 13, 2021 - 11:49am

The managers of Genesee County’s three largest municipalities are exploring the best ways to spend a windfall of federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11. It is intended to help the United States recover from the adverse economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

While the exact amounts to be allocated to towns and villages have yet to be determined, it has been reported that Genesee County will receive slightly more than $11 million, the City of Batavia will receive between $1.57 and $2.5 million, and the Town of Batavia will receive about $750,000.

Formal guidance on how the money may be used was released earlier this week in the form of a 151-page document.

According to published reports, half of the money is available now and the other half will come 12 months from now. Among the qualifying uses are public health, assistance to businesses and families, replenishment of public sector revenue and enhanced compensation for essential employees.

Funds also can be utilized for water and sewer system infrastructure and increasing access to broadband internet – items that local governmental leaders seem to be focusing upon.

GENESEE COUNTY

“We will be having a discussion with the legislature later on this month at a meeting to give some rough suggestions,” Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said. “I haven’t come up with dollar amounts for each bucket but I already have been looking at areas to put this money towards – water infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, jail infrastructure and some possible economic development initiatives as well.”

Landers called it a “one-time allocation of revenues,” emphasizing that the money can’t be used to reduce property taxes.

He said the county needs to upgrade the infrastructure in both the Phase 2 and Phase 3 Water Project, and is looking at ways to assist towns with a countywide broadband solution.

“We still have a lot of pockets within our county that don’t have access to high speed internet,” he said. “Possibly, we can utilize some of this money to help fill those gaps.”

CITY OF BATAVIA

In Batavia, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said she will be presenting a plan to City Council to allocate the CARES funds to specific projects that could include water, sewer, downtown parking rehabilitation and equipment purchases.

She, too, said these are one-time revenues and, as such, will be recommending “that they should be used for one-time purchases, not continuing operations.”

Tabelski noted that the city just ended its 2020-21 fiscal year (on March 31) and is starting an audit next week.

“So, unlike the county and town, with fiscal years that run from January through December, we need to finish the audit to evaluate the 2020-21 fiscal year final revenue,” she said.

TOWN OF BATAVIA

At the Town of Batavia, Supervisor Gregory Post said the money will offset lost revenue, enabling the town board "to allocate the balance to specific needs, which we are identifying right now to see what qualifies.”

Post indicated that expanding broadband and high-speed internet is at the top of the list.

He also said the money can help the town recover from the lack of upgrades to its comprehensive, solar, land use and agricultural protection plans.

“Furthermore, we would like to develop the scale and scope of how we can maintain all of the services to the community through a virtual town hall, and not having to expend any tax dollars in brick and mortar facilities that are not able to be used in the event of another pandemic or other similar circumstance,” he offered.

Post acknowledged the recent increase in property assessments, pledging to find ways “to best serve the community and keep taxes flat or attenuate any of the expenses incurred during COVID.”

On a national level, it has been reported that some states with Republican governors or legislative majorities have filed lawsuits in an effort to strike down the provision that the funds can’t be used for tax relief – on grounds that the stipulation violates the rights of individual states.

March 31, 2021 - 1:33pm

Press release:

Standing at the Bug Jar in Downtown Rochester, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced today that "help is on the way" to the Finger Lakes region as he detailed specifics from the American Rescue Plan Act he just led to passage in the U.S. Senate.

Using the Bug Jar as a backdrop, Schumer explained that even more for New York’s live independent venues which are eligible for their own, DIRECT, federal pandemic relief, thanks to a provision he championed.

Save Our Stages

The Save Our Stages provision included an additional $1.25 billion for independent live venues, performing arts organizations, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and included a critical fix that allows venues to access a PPP loan and a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, deducting the PPP loan amount from the grant amount. Schumer said the additional funding and technical fix would be a lifeline for New York’s independent venues, hard-hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, a venue had to choose between getting a PPP loan or a Save Our Stages grant.

Just last week, SBA announced that the Save Our Stages program will open to applications on April 8th after Schumer’s continued press to implement the program. SBA also released an updated PPP application that now allows venues to apply for a PPP loan as well as a Save Our Stages grant, as Schumer intended with the fix included in the recent COVID-19 bill.

“Independent venues, like theaters, concert halls, and cinemas, are the beating heart of New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the Upstate economy. These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to fully reopen, costing jobs and leaving a giant hole in the fabric of our communities,” Senator Schumer said.

“That is why I made sure this relief bill included a swan song – additional reliefs dollars to boost the Save Our Stages legislation and a critical technical fix to allow venues to access PPP and flexible grant support. Getting federal dollars into the hands of struggling small businesses, like independent venues in the Finger Lakes, not only makes sense, but it’s the curtain call needed to keep small businesses like the Bug Jar going.”

Schumer said that live venues remain one of the hardest hit industries as the state carefully reopens, and dedicated assistance from the American Rescue Plan will save many venues from permanently shutting their doors to the public. It is estimated that by the end of 2020 live venues across the country lost $9 billion in ticket sales alone.

The senator said the federal assistance was imperative because independent venues not only drive economic activity within communities through restaurants, hotels, taxis and other transportation and retail establishments, but live events provide 75 percent of all artists’ income.

The December package included $15 billion to create the Save Our Stages program after Schumer’s tireless efforts to pass it into law. The program, which will be overseen by the Small Business Administration, provide assistance to independent live venue operators, promoters, producers, talent representatives, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.

Grant amounts equal to 45 percent of gross revenue in 2019 for the venue, up to $10 million, can be used for various costs, including payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, PPE procurement, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines.

To ensure the hardest hit of eligible applicants receive assistance, there are two priority application periods. The first 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 90 percent of gross revenue can apply. The next 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 70 percent can apply. A reserve of 20 percent of overall appropriated funds, $3 billion out of the $15 billion provided, will remain available for all other eligible entities to apply for after 28 days. There is a $2 billion set-aside of funds for eligible entities with 50 or fewer employees to ensure smaller applicants are not left out.

American Rescue Plan's Impact on New York

Additionally, Schumer detailed the American Rescue Plan’s tentative impact to New York as more than $100 billion dollars. The deal includes the additional round of direct stimulus checks for tens of thousands of Finger Lakes residents, on top of aid to help schools safely reopen, vaccine distribution, critical pension relief, an expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, new rental assistance, agriculture and nutrition assistance, direct local fiscal relief to revive the local economy and help solve the Finger Lakes’ budget woes, all of which adds up to essential relief for countless families, workers, restaurants, more independent live venues and small businesses across the state. 

Schumer also highlighted that researchers have said that the American Rescue Plan will cut the child poverty rate in half, which is especially important for Rochester as the city ranks the highest for child poverty among cities of a comparable size, with 48 percent of children living below the poverty line.

THIS PLAN:

  • Makes the Child Tax Credit (CTC) fully refundable and increases the credit amount from $2,000 to $3,000 per child age 6 to 17 (and $3,600 per child below the age of 6). An estimated 3.56 million children across New York will benefit from this expanded tax credit, and it will lift 680,000 children in the state above or closer to the poverty line. It is estimated that New York families will receive $7.03 billion in relief from the enhanced CTC.
  • Strengthens the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers, many of whom are in lower-paid but essential jobs on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response, benefitting 910,000 of these workers in New York. It is estimated that New York families will receive over $786 million will receive in relief from the enhanced ETIC.

Money for the Finger Lakes Region

Sends $22 million in direct payments of $1,400 to over 9 million New Yorkers. That includes approximately $1.4 billion in direct payments for more than an estimated 556,000 households in the Finger Lakes Region: An estimated 344,000 households in Monroe County will receive approximately a total of $858 million; an estimated 41,500 households in Wayne County will receive approximately a total of $104 million; an estimated 51,000 households in Ontario County will receive about a total of $127 million; an estimated 29,000 households in Livingston County will receive approximately a total of $72 million; an estimated 18,500 households in Orleans County will receive approximately a total of $46 million; an estimated 26,500 households in Genesee County will receive approximately a total of $66 million; an estimated 18,000 households in Wyoming County will receive approximately a total of $46 million; an estimated 16,000 households in Seneca County will receive approximately a total of $39 million; and an estimated 11,500 households in Yates County will receive approximately a total of $29 million.

As part of the deal, more than $23.8 billion in state and local aid will be going to New York, with more than $566.31 million going directly to the Finger Lakes Region. New York State government will receive over $12 billion, solving the state’s budget woes. 

With 50 percent of Rochester’s rental units currently occupied by tenants spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, Schumer explained that rental assistance, included in the American Rescue Plan, is also a necessary tool of fighting poverty.

This funding is a win-win allowing residents to cover past-due rent and future rent payments while maintaining rental streams for property owners needed to maintain this housing. Without this federal aid, too many families would be unable to make payments, through no fault of their own, and be faced with the prospect of being thrown out of their homes in the middle of a pandemic.

EPPI 2.0 builds and improves upon the success of EPPI 1.0, which was launched last summer thanks to funding Schumer secured in the CARES Act. Changes in the second round of the program include less cumbersome eligibility guidelines to qualify for rent relief; and the ability of landlords to apply for relief on behalf of their tenants with their consent.

Funding for Education

The American Rescue Plan also includes $9 billion for New York’s K-12 schools – these flexible funds will support school districts in reopening safely for in-person instruction and addressing the many needs that students are facing due to the pandemic. Finger Lakes school districts will receive $404.5 million in total in K-12 support funds.

New York’s Colleges and Universities will also receive $2.6B from the American Rescue Plan, half of which must be distributed to students in the form of financial aid awards to address hardships caused by COVID-19. Finger Lakes colleges will receive $163.8 million in total.

Funding for Transit 

Schumer was able to secure more than $7 billion in transit funding for New York, with $45.5 million going toward the Rochester Transit Services (RTS), $12,061,336 for Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Airport, and $219,000 for other Finger Lakes airports.

Multiemployer Pension Plan Relief

The legislation also delivers critical relief for suffering multiemployer pension plans – which have experienced significant additional challenges as a result of this economic crisis – without cutting benefits retirees have earned. In New York State alone, there are more than 1.3 million participants in multiemployer pension plans, and around 624,600 New Yorkers are participants in plans that are expected to receive relief directly through this legislation.

“As Majority Leader, I fought hard to ensure this deal sent real relief to the tune of $100 billion to New York for workers, families, farmers, healthcare, small businesses, including our hard-hit industries like restaurants, and communities in Ithaca—the things we need to support in order to weather this crisis and then work to recover,” Schumer said. “This marks the second biggest stimulus bill in the nation’s history—second to the CARES Act—and it comes just in time, because Finger Lakes residents still need real help to get through this.”

March 29, 2021 - 12:14pm
posted by Press Release in news, Oak Orchard Health, covid-19, American Rescue Plan Act.

Press release:

Oak Orchard Health is pleased to announce it has received notification that it will be awarded $3.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

These funds will be used to: expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver preventive and primary health care services to people at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units. 

“This is great news for all of us at Oak Orchard Health and is another reminder of the importance of all the work we do,” says Mary Ann Pettibon, CEO Oak Orchard Health.

Oak Orchard Health

Originally founded in 1966, Oak Orchard has grown from a migrant health project into an integrated health center with multiple locations providing health care services for everyone located in the communities we serve. Currently serving more than 26,000 patients at 11 locations, Oak Orchard Health is a recognized patient-centered medical home and 501(c) nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) located in the towns of Albion, Alexander, Batavia, Brockport, Corfu, Lyndonville, Hornell and Warsaw.

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