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Southold in line to receive $2.43M in federal stimulus funds, but supervisor cautions figure could alter

Southold Town will receive approximately $2.43 million in federal stimulus funds as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

The massive stimulus package was adopted by both houses of Congress March 10 and approved by President Joe Biden the following day.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell cautioned that the current figure for the town could still change as unanswered questions remain.

“The U.S. Treasury still has to create guidelines to determine how the funds can be dispersed, then the money goes the New York State for administration and distribution,” he said in an email. “The funds are broken down into four or five qualifying categories. It is simply not clear that we qualify for the whole $2.43 million or ‘up to’ $2.43 million. 

He pointed out that the caveat there is a “big difference.”

“I’m more cynical than most but, I don’t think it would be smart to start counting on money that’s not here yet,” he said. “Too many issues need to be clarified that haven’t been yet.”

Riverhead Town will receive about $3.7 million in federal stimulus funds over 2021 and 2022, according to Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.

Suffolk County received $286 million in American Rescue Plan funding, and New York State secured $12.6 billion in direct state fiscal relief, said Ms. Aguiar, who thanked U.S. senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The money was allocated based on 2019 census population estimates. 

Ms. Aguiar said in a press release that she has put together a committee composed of financial administrator Bill Rothaar, community development director Dawn Thomas and deputy town attorney Annemarie Prudenti to advise the Town Board on how to utilize the two-year allocation most effectively to benefit the operation of Riverhead town government and to best serve the residents of the municipality.

Eligible uses of the funds, the supervisor said, include costs associated with responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency and covering losses caused by the pandemic, as well as necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

Funds may not be used by states or localities to cover the costs of pension funds. States also may not use funds to offset taxes.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced last Thursday than an agreement had been reached with legislative leadership to restore planned budget cuts due to the receipt of $286 million in American Rescue Plan funding. 

The money “will prevent layoffs and restore cuts to public safety, transportation and contract agencies that were expected to be implemented in July,” Mr. Bellone said. 

The funding also “will allow the county to continue providing essential services to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. 

Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said the Town of Southampton received $6,405,851 and the Town of Shelter Island received $265,128 in American Rescue Plan money. 

“The American Rescue Plan will provide vital relief to the East End and to local governments across the state,” he said in a press release.

“As the chair of the Assembly local governments committee, I have been calling on the federal government throughout the COVID-19 crisis to provide desperately needed relief to our municipalities,” Mr. Thiele said. “I thank our partners in the New York Congressional Delegation for their swift and meaningful action to assist our state, and look forward to continuing to work together as we begin to recover from the pandemic.”

WITH JOE WERKMEISTER