TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Legislature is looking for input from local community members regarding how to distribute the $19.8 million the county received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

To gather said input, the county has assembled a survey where people can rank their top three funding priorities, though the full slate of options is limited to eight choices that are allowed by the federal government. The survey is available here, and answers are due by June 28. The results will be discussed at the June 30 county Budget Committee meeting, where spending negotiations will first be broached.

The survey can be filled out online or printed and mailed c/o Dominick Recckio at 125 E. Court Street, Ithaca, N.Y. The spending choices are as follows, as allowed by the feds:

  • to meet residents’ additional needs for public health, mental health, and early and special education services after March 3, 2021;
  • 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);
  • 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;
  • to provide aid to industries like tourism, travel, and hospitality, which were particularly hard hit by the impacts of the pandemic);
  • to provide premium pay to essential workers in the public sector;
  • to provide premium pay to essential workers in the private sector;
  • 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
  • to make necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

“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,” said Legislator Deborah Dawson, chair of the Budget, Personnel and Capital Committee. “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.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com