A month after the signing of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and funding for municipalities, greater Cortland area officials said Tuesday they are still waiting on federal guidelines on how they can spend the money.
Municipalities are scheduled to receive their funding within 60 days of the signing of the plan — about mid-May — Dryden Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Lamb said. The total amounts for each municipality will be divided over two years — 2021 and 2022.
Lamb said the town might use some of the money to cover the cost of its municipally owned broadband project. The town recently applied for an Appalachian Regional Commission grant that requires a 50% local match. Funding from the stimulus could help cover that.
“That’s something we’re going to be looking at,” Lamb said.
The town had been working on the project before the pandemic, but the pandemic — and working and learning from home — reinforced the critical need for good, reliable broadband and Lamb said that it’s a vital part of the town’s infrastructure.
“Broadband is an essential service,” he said. “It’s essential infrastructure just like water and sewer.”
What they expect
Municipal funding as part of the American Rescue Plan:
Cortland: $9.23 million
Tompkins: $19.82 million
Cayuga: $14.85 million
Cortland: $2.05 million
Dryden: $1.56 million
SOURCE: Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
In Cortlandville, the town may look to spend some of its money for an upgraded COVID screening and security at the entrance of the Raymond G. Thorpe Municipal Building, Supervisor Tom Williams said.
When people enter the building, they must sign in, show ID and have their temperature taken as part of COVID contact tracing, he said. The town may look to further enhance that with stimulus funding.
Additionally, the town has been working on getting a metal detector at the entrance of the building as a further safety precaution.
The town may also use the money to reimburse funds lost at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex last year over canceled events.
Like Lamb, Williams said he is still waiting for the final guidelines.
“We’re not spending a sent of it in hand and until we know what the feds say we can spend it on,” he said.
The money would likely be used in the town of Homer on a number of infrastructure projects, said Supervisor Fred Forbes.
This could include finishing the third floor of town hall, road work and work on the Wall Street bridge, which has been closed for three years after being flagged by the state Department of Transportation for being unsafe.
Replacing the bridge would cost between $1 million to 1.2 million, Forbes said.
Work, though, is needed especially to improve access for fire department vehicles, because the bridge is not wide enough to drive over and access River Street and has a three-ton weight limit, not enough for emergency fire vehicles.
Lamb, Williams and Forbes all said a portion of their funding would go to their villages — Dryden, Freeville, McGraw and Homer.